At the turning point of time
The Spirit-light of the world
Entered the stream of earth existence.
Darkness of night
Had ceased its reign;
Shone forth in human souls:
That gives warmth
To simple shepherds’ hearts;
The wise heads of kings.
‘The Epiphany’ celebrated on January 6th also goes by other names such as Three Kings’ Day, Twelfth Day, The Adoration of the Magi and Dia de los Tres Reyes among others. In many cultures, Christmas or the birth of Christ is actually celebrated on this day instead of December 25th. January 6th brings the ends of the holy days and twelve days of the Christmas season. It signifies the birth of the Light within us all and the resolution of our waiting and anticipation of the coming of the Sun and/or Son in our lives and in our world (Advent). It is a time of Truth, of Hope and of Finding the Light and ‘Christ’ within all of us. (~excerpt from our new Three Kings Day & The Epiphany Ebook
Read this beautiful story to your children today (this is just one of SIX amazing stories we’ve included in our new Three Kings ebook to help you bring the Light of the Epiphany into your home or school)
The Holy Night
In the far-off places of the world where men do not pass often, it is nothing to be poor. Little Hansei and his mother were poor, but that was nothing to him. They lived on the side of a great hill, where, save their small black hut with its little gauzy curl of smoke, there was no sign of life as far as eye could reach. And it seemed to Hansei that the whole world was theirs, and they were the whole world. Yet on fair days, far below, the misty towers and steeples of a city showed. But this was as unreal and unreachable as dreams and clouds to Hansei; the only difference was, a yellow road wound down to it, and if one went far enough he might someday reach that strange, misty place. But dreams — they always went at morning; and clouds— if he climbed to the highest point of the hill he could never reach them!
Sometimes people had passed that way. Once a man had gone bearing a burden. Another time, as Hansei and his mother gathered up their fagots at evening, a man and woman passed together; the sunset light was on the woman, and she sang as she went. Again, men in dark robes and hoods passed by; some had ridden on mules; some were grave and walked, reading from small books, others laughed. And these were all (except a peddler who had lost his way) that Hansei had ever seen go by. People seldom went that way; the road was steep, and there was an easier way down at the other side, his mother said.
Once Hansei asked her if those who had passed were all the people there were besides themselves. His mother said, “There are others off there,” pointing to the city.
Every morning before it was light Hansei’s mother went away to the other side of the hills somewhere.
The first time he awoke and found the black loaf and water waiting and his mother gone, he had cried and searched and called her over and over. “Mother! Mother!” he had cried as loud as he could call down the yellow road.
“Mother! Mother!” had come a strange voice from beyond the hills; and Hansei’s heart had leaped with a new joy. He cried back wildly, “Where are you?”
“Where are you?” cried the voice again.
“I am here!”
“I am here!”
“Come to me!”
“Come to me!”
All day Hansei and the strange voice from beyond the hills called and cried to each other. Hansei thought: “It is true there are others off there, and someone is calling to me.”
At night the mother came back. Hansei asked: “Where have you been?” and put up his arms. His mother said: “At the other side of the hill,” and touched his head gently.
“What did you do so long?”
“I made lace.”
“What is lace?”
“It is like that a little,” and she pointed to a cobweb stretching from a dead twig to a weed. Hansei looked and slowly put his foot through it.
“Must you go tomorrow and next day?” he asked.
“Next day and always,” said the mother, looking off down the yellow road.
Hansei cried: “Let me go too; let me go!”
“Hush, no; it is dark where I go.”
“Is there no sun at the other side of the hill?”
“Yes, yes; but we who make lace sit in darkness.”
Hansei asked: “Why must there be lace?”
“The mother stared into the dusk. “Because,” she said slowly, “there are princesses and great ladies down there who must be beautiful.”
“What is beautiful?”
“I don’t know.”
Always through the dusky summer evenings they sat together on the doorstep, the mother with her bent head resting on her hand, and Hansei staring up at the great sky and clouds and stars above him. Sometimes the mother told strange stories, but oftener they sat silent.
When winter came it seemed to Hansei that half of all the joy and light and life went out of the world. There were no birds nor bugs nor bees left; the flowers were gone, and the days were short and gray. It was cold, and he could only stay in the dim little house, playing with small sticks and stones, or tracing the frostwork on the one little window. Frost was like lace, his mother had told him.
Sometimes, too, he would try to sing as the woman had sung who passed that summer time. One evening in the middle of winter Hansei and his mother started out to a bit of woods skirting the other side of the yellow road. Hansei sang as they went; it was half what the woman had sung and half like nothing that was ever heard. Sometimes this tune made his mother smile a little, but oftener she did not hear it.
As they crossed the yellow road his mother stopped and looked, as she always did. “Hark!” she said, hushing the singing with her hand. Hansei stood still and listened.
Yes, yes, they were coming—”the others.”
It sounded again as it had the day the men had ridden by, only more — more; and they were coming nearer.
There were voices and the beat of footsteps, and sometimes Hansei heard a strange sound that might be singing or wind moaning.
Hansei said: “I am so afraid.” But his mother did not hear him. He hid his face in her gown and waited. They were coming on and on; and they were saying something together,— strange words that Hansei had never heard. Nearer and nearer! He felt them passing close where he and his mother stood; he raised his head and looked.
He saw a long dark line of men, some riding and some walking. Their heads were bent, and they said the strange words together. Sometimes there was a burst like song, then the words again.
There was one torch. Slowly they made their way down the yellow road. Hansei and his mother watched them as they went.
He whispered, “Where are they going?”
“Down there,” said the mother softly. “It is the Christ-child’s night.”
“Why do they go?”
“What will they ask?”
“Can all go?”
“Let us go, Mother; let us go! There is a voice down there that calls me often.”
The mother looked back at the little dark house, then down the road where the one point of light moved on. “Come, let us go; let us follow it,” she said, taking his hand and hurrying down the steep way in the darkness.
Through the long, wild night they toiled on and on. Always the little light went before, and always Hansei and his mother followed where it led.
Once Hansei cried out: “See, Mother, the torch is the star, and we are the shepherds seeking the little Christ-child!” And he laughed.
In the gray dawn they came to the misty city. “How strange! how strange!” thought Hansei, as they went down the narrow streets. “How many houses, and lights, and people! But the real light, the little star, we must not lose it.”
Just before them went the dark line of men and the torch. People who met them stepped aside and always made strange signs on their breasts. Suddenly the light went out, and the men disappeared into what seemed a great shadow.
Hansei asked: “What is it?”
His mother said: “A church.”
“Let us go in, too; the star went;” and Hansei, with all his strength, pushed back the great door.
“People! people!” little Hansei had not dreamed there were so many of “the others.”
There in the dim light they were kneeling, praying for “light, light,” his mother had told him.
Far beyond there were small lights, like stars shining, and a man in a white robe, who said the strange words he had heard on the yellow road. Then the kneeling people all said something together.
Hansei thought, “They are trying to tell him they want the light, and he does not understand.”
Hansei’s mother knelt where she stood, and he crept down beside her. He heard her saying the words he did not know. He only said softly: “Light, light for them all!”
An old woman knelt near him; not far off a lame boy and a mother with a sleeping child in her arms knelt also, and there beyond, a woman.
Ah, he knew what “beautiful ” was now! He looked to see if she wore lace like cobwebs and frost.
She did not pray; she only knelt there. Tears were in her eyes. “Light for her and all,” whispered Hansei over and over.
Then it was as if a dream came true. Some one that had stood near stepped back, and there, there beyond, appeared the little Christ-child, just as his mother had told him. There was the beautiful mother, the wise men and angels, the youth, the maiden, and the light shining from the child and touching them all, all, even the poor little beasts off there!
Hansel cried: “Look, look, Mother! the Christ-child!”
His mother said, “Hush-hsh! It is not the real Christ-child, but a picture.”
Hansei looked back. “Not the real Christ-child? But, Mother, the star stopped here! Then the real Christ-child is here somewhere, I know.”
He looked about, but he saw only the old woman, the lame boy, the mother with her child, and the beautiful woman who could not pray.
He turned back to the painted child and the light, and looked, and looked; he stared his eyes blind; at last he could not see; all seemed to fade, to go.
The tired eyelids fell; his head drooped down on his mother’s arm, and he slept. But his eyes still held the light, and he dreamed.
It seemed to him that the beautiful pictured light grew and broadened into a great shining. “Surely,” thought the little boy, “the real Christ-child is near! but where? not here; here is only the old woman and the lame boy and the others praying. But the great light— shining over all, above every head, in shining rings! How beautiful!”
And he thought he cried out, “See, you have the light, all of you! Do not pray, but be glad!”
They did not hear, and prayed on.
“But the Christ-child—where is the real Christ-child?” he wondered.
He thought he stood up and strained his eyes over the bent heads of the praying people, and while he looked he saw myriad circles of light begin to glow; and lo! there, near—so near—was the real Christ-child,—only it was the old woman.
Dreams are strange!
Her bent, trembling body seemed going, fading, and there knelt a shining being,—the real Christ-child; yet it was the old woman.
And the lame boy, the hurt creature, as he looked, melted into the shadow of his radiant, perfect self, and shined too.
The mother with her child grew bright, bright; and each of the kneeling, praying ones was a perfect shining child!
The light grew into glory; the fullness of joy broke into singing; angels, heavenly hosts, singing, “The Christ is here,— here in the world!”
But what—? Who—? Why, his mother, to be sure, leaning above him. “Wake, Hansei; hear the music! See the choir boys in white, like angels.”
Hansei opened his eyes wide. The glorious Christmas morning was beaming full upon him through the great window, and he saw the light of the new day touching the bent old woman, the lame boy, the mother with her child, the beautiful woman beyond, and the pictured Christ.
He heard clear voices, “Peace on earth!” But the dream—the dream! “I have found the real Christ-child,” he whispered.
~ Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men