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Epiphany

Epiphany as a holiday has a very rich tradition but people speak less often of epiphany as a feeling.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epiphany_%28feeling%29

In pondering the nature of God or gods, philosophers and theologians often ask whether God is immanent in this world as in pantheism or transcendent, existing beyond this world in a separate dimension, or both, as in panentheism.

Somewhat in the same vein, the literary critics argue the question of whether a story is necessarily bound to the immediate contexts (historical, social, cultural, etc.) or if it could also exist beyond these contexts (across cultures and time in history) in a more timeless and universal sense. Another point they argue is whether the story belongs to the author or to the readers, or to both.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Criticism.

It seems to me that, in writing, epiphany can accompany the climax of the story and the denouement that follows it or it could manifest (if subtly) much earlier, as a starting point of the unraveling of the hidden or the parallel narrative, in the mind of an observer-narrator, the dreamer within a dream.

Every dream (a story often with a very loose nonlinear plot created within the subconscious) that is powerful enough to break through the veil of the subconscious and transforms the dreamer like Scrooge's dream of the ghosts of Christams past, present and future can also be said to be an epiphany in the sense that it has a profound and lasting effect on the dreamer.

It seems to me that, if a story can be written without any signs of epiphany,  good writing still plants a seed of epiphany in its readers.  By showing and not telling, an author can plant enough clues in the reader's mind so that they eventually trigger sparks of insight that lead to an epiphany when a character finally comes alive to the reader or an elusive yet profound theme makes itself known.

 

 

 

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Planting 'the seed of epiphany'

I think you've nailed it, Kim.

The human species, children of God who created the Light, are made in his image and we carry the epiphany with us. We are at liberty to see it dimmed or to do our worst to extinguish it. We can 'hide it under a bushel' or allow it naturally to burn steadily and glow from within. All the shadows, the dark clouds, the noise and clamour, cannot wholly destroy that light. But we live in an earthly dimension where the chiarascuro, the interplay of light and shade, is the thing which reveals the truth of the picture, God's work of art.

You'll know that St John, speaking of the coming of Christ, describes it like this:

He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came to be, not one thing had its being but through him. All that came to be had life in him and that life was the light of men, a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower. (Jerusalem Bible)

Epiphany is the light of the seed, the light of the embryo, the light of every single living cell (which scientists can now appreciate!). Epiphany is Christ smiling through us to a forlorn world. Epiphany is the halo of those who have so nurtured that seed of faith and belief in God's providence that the darkness is put to flight. Their path back to their true home is illuminated.

As you say, the light is best manifest in showing rather than telling.

Thank you, Kim, for the invitation to your page (and for your appreciation of my 'Mirror' post).

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The Inner Light

The spark of the divine that sets human beings apart from other animals, as you've suggested, allows us to build on God's creation but it's also up to us to kindle that light. I guess that would be a good way to understand Epiphany.