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A few days ago, I was able to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Not since I was expecting my first child and looking forward to each check-up with my midwife (who remains a dear family friend) have I been so enthusiastic about a medical appointment.

It’s a relief, really.

Receiving Part One of this vaccine does not change my personal behavior at all. I’m still masking up and standing back.

But I feel immense relief at being able to do something proactive to defeat the pandemic that has brought so much stress and grief to communities all over the world. After months of washing my hands thoroughly and wringing them as I “mourn with those that mourn,” it feels positively celebratory to be able to do something more to fight this virus.

The mood of the health department personnel at the vaccine clinic was dignified and professional, but also cheerful. This tier of vaccine recipients includes various health care workers who are helpers both by occupation and by nature, genuinely glad to do our small part.

As I sat and waited my required 15 minutes post-vaccine, I thought about what a lovely coincidence it was that I was getting my shot on Jan. 6 — Epiphany, also called Three Kings’ Day.

Epiphany, for many Christians, is a traditional feast day to celebrate the day the Magi came to worship the Christ child.

We’re not sure exactly how many Wise Men there were, but ancient Greek manuscripts name three: Gaspar, Melchior and Balthazar. While we don’t know the actual date of the kings’ visit, and Jesus was probably not a newborn when they brought him gold, frankincense and myrrh, observing Three Kings’ Day is an opportunity to extend our Christmas adoration of the Savior into the new year.

Some Christians mark their doorframes with chalk, usually with writing that refers to the three kings. This writing can represent both a blessing on the home and the hospitality the Holy Family showed the Magi. That hospitality is also thought to be a metaphor for how early Christians learned to welcome new converts who came from Jewish tradition as well as the Gentiles who did not.

I love the word “epiphany,” and that it refers both to the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles, and a sudden realization.

I’ve always enjoyed the story of the Wise Men coming to visit the Savior. These were smart guys, well-read and well-versed in science and philosophy. They were wealthy and successful enough to be referred to as “kings,” and yet humble enough to recognize who the real King was.

I wonder about their feelings of epiphany as they offered their gifts to the Christ child. Were they overwhelmed? Overjoyed? Did they, like the poor trembling shepherds, realize these good tidings of great joy they’d been pondering were for all people? Did they realize they themselves would come to represent all Gentile believers, or were they too focused on their personal spiritual journeys?

My timer chimed, and I excused myself to leave the vaccine clinic and walk to my car.

Did the scientists who worked feverishly to create that vaccine also experience epiphanies? Do scientific breakthroughs feel spiritual, I wonder? Did those very smart folks sense the Divine helping them, preparing them to see scientific truth more clearly, more quickly? Are they, too, relieved and grateful to be able to do something to help ease the pain of this pandemic?

I can only ponder as I appreciate their work and consider my own realizations about how interconnected everyone really is. Here’s to a new year of epiphanies and opportunities to help each other.

Contact Sally at ordinarywitness@hotmail.com.

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