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A Twelfth Night Christmas Party

Last night, before the snow began falling, my husband and I went to a Twelfth Night Christmas party. The night was something from a dream. We revisited a home we had not seen in seventeen years and talked with professors we knew in graduate school. And I had the thought before the party began, before we even left our home – what if we stepped across the threshold and suddenly were transformed into the people who met and married seventeen years ago – like some kind of plot in a Nathaniel Hawthorne short story. What would happen if people who knew each other a lifetime ago suddenly changed and re-entered the prime of life?

Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment all over again.

John and I don’t socialize very much. We’ve had company for two weeks, but they were all family members. Our idea of socializing is going out to eat with our parish priest (which we enjoy immensely). So last night was the kind of night that will stick with me; it’ll come up again in a dream. My subconscious mind will gnaw on this experience months from now.

My husband and I stepped into old patterns. We were the same two people last night that we were seventeen years ago – like the time travel-thing really did happen. John carried the conversations. I listened. Nodded. Smiled. Pondered it all. Because that’s what writers do.

I take the people with me, and they don’t even know it. Each room has a unique feel to it. The crowded dining room. The lovely sitting room. The large kitchen with its team of caterers in their crisp, white uniforms, offering roasted lamb and crab cakes. The sweeping staircase. And my favorite – the three-story library with its own spiral stair.

The people are as unique as the rooms. People from the Order of Malta and the Eugene Field House. Editors. Professors. Book designers. Architects. A priest.

The quieter ones, like me, gravitate to the library. This is where literature keeps its own time capsule. One can sit and read and discover that time travel is possible.

And we did step back in time.

My husband and I stood in the middle level of that three-story library, where just a few others had migrated, and John pulled a book from the shelf and read the poem he quoted to me more than seventeen years ago.

And we remembered our story.

We remembered each other and this vocation that has been so full of grace and love.

It was Twelfth Night.

We had just been to Mass and celebrated the Epiphany – where Mary and Joseph’s quiet little life with Jesus was interrupted. The whole world came to them in the form of Magi. Joseph probably did most of the talking – like my husband. Mary probably quietly took it all in – like me. Perhaps this is where they realized that their life would not be their own. It was meant for others. It was meant for everyone. Perhaps their vocation was felt most acutely in that moment.

Christ is not meant to be kept a secret. He is Lord of the nations. We must let Him be who He is. We cannot remain closed off. We must not keep Him to ourselves.

It was like someone had taken the book off the shelf and laid it open before them – for us. The old scroll contained it all. And they found themselves stepping into those words – finding themselves there.

“Caravans of camels shall fill you, dromedaries from Midian and Ephah; All from Sheba shall come bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the LORD.” Isaiah 60:6

Epiphany 2014

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