Trent was 18 when we first met him camping on the beach in Baja. Dred-locks to his waist, long and lean and fit as only a young man spent with ample recreational time can be. It seemed most of us who windsurfed there fell in love with him, not only because his physical beauty drew us, but because he was funny and kind, witty and sarcastic, and quick; nothing got by him. And so we let him harass us around the fires at night, all the while entertaining us. He made us laugh at ourselves and each other, and he was constantly stoned.
As years went by his exuberant adolescence aged to a more sedentary stage, and he replaced the marijuana for quarts of beer, commonly called ballenas. The years accrued, and the ballenas were replaced by quarts of whiskey and other drugs. I mourned his replacements. When Trent was stoned he was sweet. But when he was drunk he became angry, disjointed, sarcastic. His relationships with the windsurfing community gradually became strained. Each year he'd arrive and camp farther and farther back from the water's edge, his camp becoming littered with garbage and bottles.
Then one year he didn't show up, and another went by without him. We heard he'd been driving truck in the Northwest. Another year, and then suddenly last year, there he was. Sober, sweeter. I witnessed an even more dramatic change this season and I couldn't believe my eyes. Thin, wiry, fit, hair shorn, sweet spirited, bantering and cajoling, relational and clear eyed. It was a Trent I remembered. He was back.
I wanted to ask him why the change...what happened...how did he suddenly become the Trent we had known and loved. Because I care so much for him and am generally interested in the subject of personal transformation, I was deeply interested in how he had found his way to such a different life style.
One night he plopped down in my hammock. "S'up, Ruthanne?" Here was my opportunity. I gently inquired how the changes came about in him; how was he able to be sober, stay sober, lose weight, get free of the drugs and clambering need? To my astonishment, he really didn't know what I was talking about. It didn't seem he really knew what changes he had made, except to get free of the alchohol...and that he did by merely stopping.
Inside I was exploding. Of course, it was almost like he just awoke from a dream, and hadn't seen himself from the outside in. Pretty true of us all as we move from one developmental stage to another I think. However, later in the week another person mentioned the two weeks Trent's girlfriend had been visiting. "Girlfriend?" Sudden clarity. "Oh," I thought, "he fell in love."
Epiphany is a word we use when we describe a moment of sudden clarity, or experience a surprise of understanding, or are able to made a new connection. Remember all through advent, the scriptures kept at it: something will change, someone is coming, your world will be defined from a different light. We've been waiting for some new thing; a new insight, a new beginning, a birthing. Remember that through the waiting Love has been growing in us, subtly changing us, quietly bringing us to a moment of surprising change.
Like Trent, our eyes may not be practiced at seeing ourselves and how the prayer of love has been moving through our spirits and physical bodies to manifest to our communities, yet because the advent scriptures were so adamant, we can count on the fact that Love is working is us and through us. Check it out. Has something shifted in you? Can those who live close by see a different aspect of you? Has the Spirit pompted any new beginnings in you? You may want to click onto the mediation and follow the Examen just for the fun of it.
The Royal Magi came looking for a King, and found a wee one, a baby in a humble home, surrounded by Love. This Love had been growing in them through the years of their journey, and when they came to the Holy One I wonder if they recognized the child as the manifestation of their experience of the God of Love. To this Love, they gave back the gifts they had been given, and their story calls us to a recognition of our own.
"So Trent, what has changed in you?" "Not much, I'm just in Love!"