Twelve Days and Twelve Ways to Deepen Your Life of Prayer 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.
For those who've glimpsed the Light come into the world in Emmanuel, God-With-Us, the Twelve Days are a journey into prayer, a season set at the beginning of the year that helps deepen our experience with God in the midst of daily life.
At the beginning of the Twelve Days stands the birth of Christ---that great eruption of light into the world, 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. They 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 where ever they may be.
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, willing to go wherever the Light should lead me.
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