“EPIPHANY – Light in the Darkness – S.E.W.”

“EPIPHANY – Light in the Darkness – S.E.W.”

I love the word ‘epiphany.’  Epiphanies are those “ah-hah!” moments in life when we suddenly feel we ‘understand’ … we ‘get it’ … we  unexpectedly gain insight into the nature or meaning of something (or someone) we hadn’t grasped, gotten or understood previously.

Many around the world are celebrating the Season of Epiphany beginning today, January 6th.   Its origin began long ago, when it is said that a star guided three Magi to travel great distance to pay homage to the baby Jesus.  Not surprisingly, the image of a star is often seen as a metaphor about bringing light in the midst of darkness … darkness of any kind: physical, emotional, spiritual, political, financial, vocational etc.

I live on an island on the west coast of Canada and when January 6th arrives, it is winter – often raining, overcast or even snowing.  Sunshine is seldom seen.  Welcoming the Epiphany through images help to bring light into my home and over the years, I’ve found a variety of ways to encourage that – and perhaps one or more of them might be something you might like to adopt as part of your Epiphany/January tradition.

* Handmade Origami paper stars … suspended from the leaves of my indoor plants, across mirrors, on windows and small ones often appear on the Christmas (Now-Epiphany) Tree.  Origami paper stars are easy to make (youtube has some easy-to-follow videos), are a creative outlet, simple to do, and remind me of the Star the Magi decided to follow. The paper stars have become a prayerful metaphor that I be guided in making wise decisions.

* Tiny white lights … appear around the house in soooo many places.  They weave their way through the plants in the front of the window and they appear on the Christmas tree in place of the coloured lights I remove on Twelfth Night.   Tiny white lights remind me to welcome the Light that comes into the world through ordinary people (of all religions, ethnicities, sexual identities, abilities, races) who bring kindness, caring, gentleness, peace, patience, goodness, love, hope, and give thanks for these “bearers of light.”

* Play S.E.W.  If you’ve been following the Soulistry blog for a while, you know that I love words and love playing with words.  During the Season of Epiphany, I play S.E.W. (Star Epiphany Word).  A bit of background about S.E.W.: when I hear people use the word “so” inappropriately (and too often), frustration begins within.  Rather than focus on my frustration, I think “SEW,” (not “SO“) and let it be a reminder of my Star Epiphany Word (S.E.W.)  which I hope and pray will guide me in some way to a transformative self-growth epiphany.

Each Season of Epiphany, I have fun choosing my S.E.W  This year, my S.E.W. is the word “open.  I want to be … open to possibilities, learning, sharing, networking and open to changing frustration into play, like creating the S.E.W. word game.   🙂

What about you?  How can you encourage Epiphany to make a difference in your life this year?   Perhaps you could  Choose a S.E.W. to guide you in the coming year.  String tiny white lights somewhere in your home.  Make origami stars and suspend them on windows, plants, doors.  Think of ways you could be the light in the world around you – and bring the light of patience, generosity, forgiveness, gentleness, self-control, thoughtfulness, goodness, kindness to others and your self so that work of Christmas doesn’t stop with Christmas as educator, theologian and civil rights leader Howard Thurman wrote: 
“When the song of the angels is stilled, when the star in the sky is gone, when the kings and princes are home, when the shepherds are back with their flocks, the work of Christmas begins: to find the lost, to heal the broken, to feed the hungry, to release the prisoner, to rebuild the nations, to bring peace among the people, to make music in the heart.”  

Happy Epiphany!   
May it be a Season of light in your life
and in this pandemic world.

<Periodically, ‘reflections’ are created and posted at www.soulistry.com/blog about a variety of themes/topics.  You are welcome to receive such reflections directly in your email (complete confidential form at www.soulistry.com) and share with accreditation with others. >


© June Maffin





It’s Twelfth Night!  Tonight!

Twelfth Night is a festival that takes place on the last night of the Twelve Days of Christmas and, for western Christianity, marks the coming of the Epiphany tomorrow – January 6th.

What is Twelfth Night all about? To borrow from ‘The Night before Christmas’ … ““’Twas the night before Epiphany and all through the house”  … celebrations, partying, merriment are happening on Twelfth Night!  

A Twelfth Night cake with a bean or coin inside, (aka King’s Cake in the UK and in the Netherlands; Martha Washington’s Great Cake in the U.S.) is ceremoniously presented and eaten. There’s a crowning of royalty; lots of music, plays/puppets/theatre and singing; and wassail, a toast of spiced ale or cider (or hot apple cider) is offered for good health. In some homes, it’s an excuse for everyone to dress-up: a masquerade.  In other words, Twelfth Night is an opportunity to feast, and play, be silly, eat and have fun! And yes, it’s possible in some way, even in a pandemic. 🙂

Around 1601, William Shakespeare wrote his ‘Twelfth Night play, a comedy, as entertainment for the close of the Season of Christmas and set the stage for the Twelfth Night feast with Orlando’s words: “If music be the food of love, play on; give me excess of it.”  In 1849, Queen Victoria marked Twelfth Night with an abundance of music, theatre performances and dance for her court which the populace began to imitate.

Many well-known painters depicted the frivolity of Twelfth Night. Peter Brueghel the Younger painted “The King Drinks” showing the King drinking to himself, a costume procession, general feasting and merry making. Jan Steen, (known as the most prolific of Twelfth Night artists – six on that theme!), focused on the role of music, symbolism of the Epiphany star and the waffles that are served royalty on Twelfth Night, and even included eggshells littered on the floor in one of his paintings. Even poets (like Robert Herrick’s 1660 “Twelfth Night: Or, King and Queen”):  “NOW, now the mirth comes” got into the celebration of the festival.

Let’s re-discover the Twelfth Night, bring some celebration and festive merrymaking into our lives, and welcome the light of the Epiphany when dawn breaks in the morning … in spite of the political tension in many countries and the pandemic around the world. Or maybe, because of it all.

And if physical celebrations cannot happen because of the pandemic, may this Twelfth Day end with a festive spirit … a spirit filled with joy and hope … with ‘you’!

Soulistry offers reflections throughout the calendar year … if you’re looking for a particular subject or theme (e.g. hope, grief, etc.), type the word into the Search bar of www.soulistry.com or visit the Soulistry blog (www.soulistry.com/blog). I look forward to sharing future Soulistry reflections with you. Soulistry reflections can be shared (accreditation appreciated) and comments welcomed. Happy Twelfth Night!

© June Maffin



Merry Christmas – the Twelfth day of Christmas.

On this, the Twelfth (and final) day of Christmas, the drummers were drumming.

Music ethnologists remind us that every culture has utilized the drum for a multitude of purposes, 
to touch the heart and communicate emotions, actions and messages in a variety of ways: social dances, feasts, sporting events, religious rituals, prelude to war, ceremonies, weddings, births, funerals, etc.

When drummers *drum*, they are trying to gain interest or support in some way.   In fact, the phrase “drum up” has become a favourite of people in business (drum up sales), as excuses (drum up an alibi or story), in advertising (drum up more customers) and yes, in politics (drum up support for a particular Bill / Amendment / Candidate), too.

As interesting as are the gain interest/support uses of the *drum* word, I’d rather “drum up” opportunities to
… be creative
… do acts of kindness
… be encouraged to make a difference that will bring about a better world in their sphere of life
… experience joy
… be involved in self-care
… dream
… ‘think’ before reacting
… imagine
… be hopeful
… find ways to keep the Spirit of Christmas alive throughout the year.

G.K. Chesterton reinforced the hope that the Spirit of Christmas is lived every day by people of all religions and by people of no religion:  “Christmas which is now over, ought to go on for the remainder of the twelve days … one of the queerest things about our own topsy-turvy time is that we all hear such a vast amount about Christmas just before it comes, and suddenly hear nothing at all about it afterwards … I am going to plead for a longer period in which to find out what was really meant by Christmas; and a fuller consideration of what we have really found.”  
<G.K. Chesterton (journalist, English writer, poet, philosopher, lay theologian)>

Let’s keep Christmas alive in our hearts beyond this day – the twelfth day of Christmas – so that Christmas isn’t just “one day” – or just for those who are Christians – or only for the twelve days of Christmas. 

And while the Season of Christmas draws to a close this night (known as Twelfth Night), the Spirit of Christmas can continue to be alive in our hearts and lives *every* day!

Tomorrow morning, the Third Season of the liturgical Church Year – Epiphany (Advent was the first; Christmas is the second) – begins as what is known as the Season of Epiphany.

Soulistry will post reflections throughout the Church Year (tonight – a special one about Twelfth Night).  You are welcome to follow the reflections in one of several ways:
… join the Facebook ‘Church Year’ group: www. facebook.com/groups/soulistrychurchyear
… on the Soulistry blog  www.soulistry.com/blog 
… on the Soulistry website www.soulistry.com
… on the Facebook ‘Soulistry’ group: www.facebook.com/groups/soulistry

You can receive Soulistry reflections directly into your email.  Add your email to the link at www.soulistry.com  and you’ll get your copy directly in your email – but just the text, no image.  To see the image – refer to one of the above links.  Soulistry lists are not sold or loaned or given to anyone … I don’t like it when that happens and don’t do it here. Your information is confidential, very safe and private.  🙂

Thank you for your encouragement of this series, your comments, and support of “Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul”.  As the year unfolds, may you be blessed in ways you cannot even begin to ask or imagine. 

<Special thanks to Cari Ferraro for permission to use her lovely calligraphy – see below for contact information about Cari..

Blessings to you,  June Maffin

Text: © June Maffin

Calligraphy: © Cari Ferraro
used with permission



On this day, the Eleventh Day of Christmas, the Pipers were piping! 

I was intrigued by the story of Scottish Infantryman and bagpiper Daniel Laidlaw who became known as the Piper of Loos in the Battle of Loos in 1915 in World War 1.  When he was awarded the Victoria Cross medal for the courage he showed when facing battles, it was said that he was “an exemplar of grace and coolness under fire.

Interesting phrase: “under fire” .  We all have experienced being ‘under fire’ in some way, at some time in our life.  Surely last year, the pandemic was a global shared experience of being “under fire.”

There are actual physical fires many have been battling because of global warming or because of electrical storms or arsonists or …  But there but also  battles of fires of different kinds: … physical illness … mental illness … infections … broken relationships … poverty … disability … grief … misogyny … financial instability … addiction … broken relationships, religious intolerance … injustice … bigotry … jealousy … loss … and then there are the “ism’s”: racism, sexism, classism, ableism, anti-semitism, ageism, heterosexism.  And the list doesn’t end there.

As this New Year unfolds, and the uncertain, scary political environment and pandemic continue, may the Piper of Loos and pipers of this day offer encouragement to each of us to be “an exemplar of grace and coolness under fire” when we confront our battles.

Let the piping begin!

Happy Eleventh Day of Christmas!


The Soulistry Christmas series is published each day during the Season of Christmas up to Epiphany and along with other Soulistry reflections
can be found at www.soulistry.com/blog
and    www.facebook.com/groups/soulistry
and  www.facebook.com/groups/soulistrychurchyear

Christmas Day began the Season of Christmas in the Christian tradition, offering a lovely stretch of time to reflect, enjoy, delight in, and consider how we can bring a little bit of Christmas into our life and the lives of others every day.

May the Twelve Days of Christmas be a reminder that Christmas isn’t just “one day.” The Spirit of Christmas can continue to be alive every day – even beyond the Season of Christmas.   🙂


© June Maffin


Merry Christmas – Tenth day!

On this day of Christmas, the lords were a-leaping.    Leaping?   Ahhhh, of course!   They were young.   But, what about those who cannot or can no longer physically leap?  

Leaping – especially leaping  over limits … opens thoughts as well as physical leaps.  What about those limits we place on ourselves … limits society puts before us …limits others place on us?   We can still leap  … when we become involved in creative leaping, in spiritual leaping, in emotional leaping.

When astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon, he set a gentle reminder that “one small step” for one person can lead to “one giant leap”  for all.   When we ‘leap,’ others can be encouraged … encouraged to leap over the limits they find blocking, restricting their emotional or spiritual growth.

But what if fear is what keeps us from leaping into the big decision … be that a house move … a project …  a relationship … a particular job or volunteer activity or … whatever!   Naturalist and essayist John Burroughs wrote: “Leap and the net will appear.”   

“The net will appear”!   
Yes.   We can be creative in our leaping – even in this global pandemic. 
So, how about, in this first week of the new year, make this new year The Year of the Leap!

Let’s “leap”
… leap into action
… leap into healing 
… leap into love
… leap into hope
… leap into joy
… leap into peace
… leap into personal growth.

Happy Tenth Day of Christmas! 
Happy leaping!

The Soulistry Christmas series is published each day during the Season of Christmas up to Epiphany and along with other Soulistry reflections can be found at www.soulistry.com/blog   and    www.facebook.com/groups/soulistry
and www.facebook.com/groups/soulistrychurchyear

Christmas Day began the Season of Christmas in the Christian tradition, offering a lovely stretch of time to reflect, enjoy, delight in, and consider how we can bring a little bit of Christmas into our life and the lives of others every day.

May the Twelve Days of Christmas be a reminder that Christmas isn’t just “one day.” The Spirit of Christmas can continue to be alive every day – even beyond the Season of Christmas.   🙂


Text © June Maffin



Have you ever noticed a mysterious series of letters and numbers which looked like a math equation, inscribed in chalk over a doorway (or at your church, or at the home of a friend) and wondered “What is that?” But you didn’t ask, so you left and wondered what the chalk was all about? If so, you’re not alone! If you’re curious, read on.

Some Christians “chalk the door” (literally ‘write on or above the entrance of their home in chalk) with a particular inscription of specific numbers/letters. For example, this year, the inscription would be: 20 + C + M + B + 21. But what does that all mean? Here’s a breakdown:

The letters can either mean
1. The initials of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar) who came to visit the baby Jesus
2. An abbreviation of the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat which means “May Christ bless this house.”

The “plus” “+” signs:
– the Cross of Jesus

The numbers
… the “20” at the beginning and the “21” at the end represent this year: 2021
Those numbers change every year, so next year you would mark 20 + C + M + B + 22.

“Chalking of the door” is a centuries-old practice throughout many parts of the world and can be a wonderful family activity and spiritual practice, invoking the Creator’s blessing on all who live/work/visit the home. In some respect, it is similar to what Jewish people have done for centuries when they attach a mezuzah to the front door/doorpost in response to a mitzvah (a commandment) believing there to be protection for those who pass through the door.

As for ‘when’ to do the “chalking of the door” – some do it on New Year’s Day; some do it on Twelfth Night; some do it on Epiphany (January 6th); and some do it on a day between New Year’s Day and Epiphany.

In case you would like to do it, am sharing this now, so you can consider the possibility, get some chalk and a board (even cardboard would do), write the inscription, let others in the home know about it so they can be there (remembering we’re in a pandemic so wearing a mask, social distancing, and only those who share the home with you, this year), gather a hammer and nails/tacks to put the inscription on/over the door, and then consider when you’ll do the actual “Chalking of the Door.”

By the way, the actual date the “Chalking of the Door”
isn’t the important thing.
Being intentional, making the time to invite and welcome God’s presence,

What’s involved? It can be very formal – an ordained person can offer a ritual of prayers and burning of incense or sprinkling of holy water). It can be done very simply by someone who lives in the home (or shared by people living in the home) … writing the inscription on or above the door … offering a short prayer (suggestion below). There is no formal way of “chalking the door.” It’s a custom we make our own so – “do your own thing.”

A “chalking of the door” prayer suggestion (or use your own words: “Holy One, (I/we) ask your blessing on this entrance and home, and upon all who live here (work here; visit here). May they may be blessed in ways that will be nourishing to their body, mind and spirit. May peace dwell in this home. May laughter and joy be experienced. May kindness, patience, thoughtfulness, and respect be present in conversations and actions. And may the Creator (Christ, the Holy One, All That Is Good) be present in the waking and sleeping of all who dwell herein. Amen.”

May this little explanation of “Chalking of the Door” be a blessing to all who read it and decide to “chalk the door” this year.

As with all “Soulistry” reflections/blog postings, you are welcome to share this or any Soulistry reflection with accreditation.

{Appreciation to Betty and Duncan Locke for permission to use Betty’s photo of their new front door. The “formula” was not on the door at photo time – it was added in thanks to “Watermark Pro.” And appreciation to Christine Sine for sharing her adaptation of the Celtic Prayer blessing.}

© June Maffin
www.soulistry.com www.soulistry.com/blog www.facebook.com/groups/soulistrychurchyear