It is January 6.
"Chalking the door" is done.
At our crêche, the Wise Men have completed their journey.
Christmas (all 12 days) is officially over, and it's time to put away the decorations.
Alas, we have no Epiphany service at church today, though in true Episcopalian compromise fashion we gave it a nod last Sunday and will do so again in three days. Indeed, the Chalking of the Door wasn't even mentioned this year, but we have long memories and still have our chalk that was blessed years ago—most of the time it lives in the January folder of my Tickler file.
A few days before Christmas, I was returning home in the dusk and saw an incredibly bright object in the sky, directly in front of me. My first thought was that it was an airplane flying directly towards me; I'm accustomed to that sight as I sit on our back porch swing during the early morning or late evening hours. But even though it continued to reappear as my path homeward twisted and turned, it did not move, and remained in the same part of the sky. I later confirmed my hunch that it was the planet Venus, familiar to me in both the evening and the morning skies—but never had I seen it so bright!
There are many theories as to the identity of the "star" that guided the Wise Men to Bethlehem, and I'm not saying it was Venus. But that sight brought home to me in a way few things have done just how impressive an object like Venus at near it's maximum magnitude can be, and how it can look like something that might both lead a traveller and even "come to rest" over a particular place.
It was a wonderful anticipation of the coming Epiphany.