'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.
Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.
All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
The Elizabethan and Jacobean court celebrated the twelve days of Christmas with banquets every day and entertainments every night. Not having quite the same resources at our disposal, Cosimo and I nevertheless wanted to find a meaningful way to celebrate Epiphany and wind down the Christmas season. So last night we lit the advent wreath for the last time and exchanged cards and a small gift apiece; today, we take down the tree and holiday decorations.
But since Epiphany, "the revelation to the nations," is fundamentally about seeing beyond the circle of one's family, friends and immediate community, I wanted to do something in that spirit as well. Since virtually all of my charitable giving is domestic--and most of it is intensely local, focused on my city, county, and state--for Epiphany, I'm starting a tradition of giving to a charity that focuses on the developing world (on the recommendation of Give Well, I went with Give Directly, which puts money in the hands of the extremely poor in Kenya and Uganda).
Here's hoping your day and your year are full of revelations large and small.