According to the dictionary, an epiphany is not only a manifestation (from whence we get the word “Epiphany” for this Feast of the Three Kings) but it is also an unexpected revelation. I had two of those today – one a joy, the other humiliating.
The first came as I sat, knitting and pondering this new spirit I’ve been experiencing in recent weeks. It is hard to describe, but suddenly I have felt as if I have awakened from a very bad dream to find that life is sweet and full of promise, and that I am lovely and lovable, worthy of all beauty and goodness –
and I realized today that, in declaring the nullity of my marriage to my first husband (I will for the moment refrain from sarcastic nicknames), Mother Church has in a very real way nullified the abuse I endured for those years. The power of the sarcasm and contempt, the sneers and neglects, the “Don’t touch me! You know that bothers me!” – all the occurrences of “I’m busy” (watching tv?) “don’t bother me – no, I don’t want to … (talk, go for a walk, sit together on the couch, hold hands, whatever) – all the manifestations of utter, contemptuous misogyny that I was convinced were personal, deserved, due to my own unworthiness —–
evaporated in the warmth of the words – “we decree the publication of the sentence declaring the nullity of the marriage….”
I didn’t realize how deeply I had absorbed Dan’s loathing, until now.
And that leads to other ponderings about the power of men – but that will be fodder for another post, another day –
The humiliating epiphany is the realization that I selfishly, thoughtlessly, desperately clung to my men friends while going through this process – a truly uncomfortable attachment for them, I realize now – drawing on their strength and dignity and approval and affection and their very being to cling like a life preserver when I thought I would drown in the misery of reliving the marriage, while working on the questionnaires. I think they have understood, though, and have forgiven me – and I pray God bless them abundantly in recompense for their generosity of goodwill toward me during those bleak, agonizing (are there enough adjectives in the dictionary?) horrid months.
and that leads to other ponderings… etc. (wink)
Today my neighbors took their Christmas decorations down. I came home from Mass as they were outside working on getting them into boxes, pulling the stairs down in their garage to gain access to the attic. I thought to go over to greet them when I got out of my car, and I thanked them for having their lights up for so long, and for as long as they should. They apologized, saying they thought the neighbors would think they were crazy! I didn’t, at all, and told them so. They shared with me that their son received gifts today, in the Hispanic tradition. After the gifts were opened and played with, everyone went outside to work on getting the front lawn cleared. The little boy objected when they began pulling the stakes out of the grass, the stakes which held down the lighted Nativity scene. He just knew that if that scene stayed up, shining for all the neighbors and passersby to see, in a week he’d receive more gifts!
I think of your Epiphany as connected to what my neighbors shared today. Your light has, for many years, been in that dark, dingy attic, unable to shine. Now, with the news of your declaration of nullity, the weight has been lifted, the window is open, the great light is shining, and you can breathe again! Praise be to God! Oh, the gifts you will receive!