In a normal year, hundreds of millions of Christians would celebrate Epiphany on January 6, in commemoration of the day the Magi arrived at Bethlehem bearing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Although the word Epiphany comes from the Greek epiphaneia, meaning “appearance” or “manifestation,” and refers to the manifestation of Jesus Christ to the world, the term can have a broader application: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something.
Unfortunately, 2020 has not been a normal year and for many of us, the accumulation of woes actually began October 8, 2017 with the explosion of The Tubbs Fire. The fire started in Calistoga, Ca., roared west to Santa Rosa, south to Sonoma, east to the Napa Valley and north to the outskirts of St. Helena. It burned 36,000 acres, destroyed 5,643 structures including 5,200 homes. Fortunately the fire was stopped at the outskirts of St. Helena.
On October 23, 2019, the Kincade Fire erupted in Sonoma Co., almost destroying the towns of Healdsburg and Windsor. It eventually destroyed nearly 78,000 acres, 352 structures including 167 homes. Although the fire did not threaten St. Helena, we were covered with a dense layer of smoke, which made breathing difficult for over a week.
On January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a world pandemic. For eight months we had been semi-isolated, wearing masks, restricting social contacts and practicing social distancing.
And then on September 29, 2020, the Glass/Boysen fires erupted. The fires charred 67,000 acres through much of northern Napa County and west into Sonoma Co. It destroyed 1,500 structures including 642 homes. Cal-Fire deployed 23 helicopters, 408 fire engines, 66 dozers, 27 hand crews, and 49 water tenders for a total of 2,773 personnel. Miraculously, once again, the fire was stopped at the St. Helena City limits.
Meanwhile, the pandemic intensified and for the first time in over 50 years it was not prudent for our family to gather for our annual Christmas dinner celebration. The culmination of 2020 woes left me with mixed feelings of confusion, depression, isolation and wondering if things will ever get better. And then I chanced across Ms. Minda Cox.
She had written a series of meditations for: Forward: Day by Day, a Bible-study guide that I was using. A blurb that described her as celebrated author, artist and motivational speaker did not seem too unusual until I discovered she was born without arms and legs. After discovering this, I discerned that her accomplishments were nothing short of miraculous.
She also provided me with an epiphany that put my 2020 woes and worries into a totally new perspective. I cannot imagine getting through a single day with the challenges she has to face. To say that she is a survivor would be a gross misrepresentation of the fact that she has thrived in conditions that less courageous people would probably have found impossible.
I can only imagine that Ms. Cox arises each morning filled with anticipation of what the new day will offer. I would consider myself blessed if I were able to (even in a small way) cultivate her attitude of optimism and face each day as a gift waiting to be unwrapped; one new epiphany after another.
Hoping that 2021 will be a; Feliz Año Nuevo! complete with many epiphanies.
Photos used with permission from Minda Cox: http://mindacox.net/My_Book.html