The Twelve Days of Christmas are largely forgotten today. If they are remembered, they’re remembered as a song about “Lord’s a leaping,” and “partridges in a pear tree.” The Twelve Days, December 25-January 5, are the true Christmas, the Christmas not of preparation for a single holiday, but of opening our hearts increasingly to the Absolute, the Ultimate, the Eternal Light of God---the Beloved, who gives life to all things by the fire of love.
These Twelve Days are also an invitation to an intensified spiritual awareness. We seek to open further to the Light come into the world in Emmanuel, God-With-Us. And so, the Twelve Days are a journey into prayer, into the presence of God, into the heart of Love. It's a season set at the beginning of the year that helps deepen our experience with God in the midst of daily life, embracing the sacred, dwelling in love, in the midst of the most ordinary tasks---answering emails and grocery shopping, sitting in staff meetings and doctor's offices, washing dishes and running kids here and here.
At the beginning of the Twelve Days stands the birth of Christ—that great eruption of light into the ordinariness of human life, a slowly expanding fire kindled at the crossroads between East and West, North and South. The end of these Twelve Days hosts the celebration of Epiphany, a word that means “manifestation” in Greek. Epiphany centers on the story of the wise men, or Magi, who journeyed from the east to welcome the Christ.
The Magi stand for those who come to the Light, those awakened by the Light—enlightened in the true sense of the word. They stand for those who return to their daily lives changed, bearers of the Light—agents of compassion, justice, and love—wherever they may be.
The posts this next Twelve Days will be a companion to whatever kind of journey you'd like to take into these twelve transformative days. In reality, these Twelve Days are only a beginning---a taste---of the much longer, lifelong journey that's yours. And truth is, the journey God has for you is much more than what you have planned for yourself as you start out.
So, welcome to this journey. And may the blessing of angels and saints--and the Magi themselves--rest upon you as you set out on this sacred path.
An Intention: Today, Christmas Eve, I begin my journey into prayer. I turn from all the preparations for Christmas, and instead of closing the door on Christmas as so many will in the next two days, I open my heart to the Absolute, the Ultimate, the Eternal Light of God, the Beloved, willing to go wherever this light of love should lead me, willing to become whatever the Light would make of me.