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Renewed epiphanies

January’s the time when we look back to the old year and forward to the new, remembering, whether we know it or not, the Roman god after whom the month is named.

Janus was the two-faced god, who could look both back and forth and so comprehensively guard entry points and doors. We needed some sort of guard at the turn of this particular year: the old one went out with storms and came in with them too. It’s hard not to see the weather as metaphorical when it takes up so much of one’s energies and thoughts.

The feast of the Epiphany celebrated on January 6th is a part of this bridge between the old year and the new, as we recall the journey of the Magi, those men with their resonant names of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, who brought those odd gifts to the baby Jesus. And I think the beginning of the year feels just the right time for epiphanies in various different forms.

Epiphanies for some are at this particular time of year about eating less, exercising more or in some new and more - or less - brutal way, or other such new-year resolutions. Pundits in the press tell us each January what we should worry about over the coming twelve months; who’s on the up, who’s on the slide. (BRICS has now turned into MINT I am told…). Rarely (with the exception of Radio Four’s racing tips) do they review their previous annual predictions for veracity, so each year they can frighten us about whatever they want to with complete impunity.

Of course there are things we should be concerned about and change for which we should fight. Preserving the world’s resources and establishing a fair and humane way of dealing with our fellow men will always top any sane agenda. But those are big challenges and because we can’t think about them for long enough to solve them, we distract ourselves with how did Sherlock survive his fall? Or how do I give up sugar altogether? We are, after all, human.

A renewed epiphany for me this Christmas has been a certainty that in schools we need to be caring for a much wider agenda than just transmitting information. Information is only really useful when you know what to do with it. And as Jamie Oliver, a man refreshingly happy to be contentious, put it recently when describing his daughters’ schooling, education ought to be about what you love.

So, this January, I am hoping for lots of suitable epiphanies and much enthusiasm for the big themes of life, love, education, and of making 2014 a better year than last.

et nova et vetera!

Tagged Reflection