Even trainers need training, so we usually have some in house at Claim U every summer. Back in July, we were holding a “tips and tricks” sharing session as part of that training. The topic turned to how we know that the learners in our classes understand the material presented, or will actually use it when they return to their regular duties after class. Some people use tests and quizzes or play Jeopardy to ensure the knowledge has been transferred. Some use action plans or personal contracts to ensure the learning will be used back home. These activities generally happen at the end of class, so we started to talk about checking understanding during class, to make sure we were getting ideas across throughout the learning process. Someone mentioned “a-ha” moments, where learners recognized they had grasped a new concept or found a better way of doing a task.
One trainer shared how she handled “a-ha” moments: She drew this chart and called it “Epiphanies,” because she likes that word. Throughout her classes, she asks learners to jot their epiphanies (or a-ha’s) down on a post-it note, and stick it to the poster. I thought, “Hey! I like that word, too!” So I started using this chart in my classes. During the introduction section, I invite students to write their epiphanies on a post-it and put it on the chart. I hang the poster close to a door. When we go on a break, I remind them to share their epiphanies.
The results have been pretty amazing. At first, people don’t want to tell a classroom full of strangers that they didn’t know something before, but they have no problem writing an anonymous note and sticking it on a board. I repeat the invitation at every break. Before class is over, people start sharing their epiphanies with their tables groups before posting them, or even say, “Wow, KSK! I never knew that!” or “I’m going to try that when I get back to my desk!”
Another co-worker started using an Epiphany chart, too. We were discussing our results over lunch one day when she stopped and asked, “Are we using this word correctly?” She happens to be a very committed Christian, and she was wondering if we ought to be using this word. It made me wonder too, so I looked it up.
I’m happy to report that the first definition provided in each dictionary I used defined “Epiphany” as a Christion festival, specifically one held on January 6th, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles in the persons of the Magi. In other words, Three Kings Day, or Twelfth Night, since it is 12 days after Christmas.
However, it is also defined as a sudden intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely or commonplace occurrence or experience. It comes from the Greek for “show forth” or “manifestation.” Which is a lot of big words meaning “a-ha” moment.
What does this mean for us? Epiphanies happen every day! In classrooms, on the job, at home, even in church! They could be almost anything - the instant you picked the perfect baby name for your child, the first poem you wrote, when you actually realized you could read or draw or finally understand fractions, when you knew you were called to be a priest. We have all experienced epiphanies and we continue to experience them throughout our lives.
Those three wise men had an Epiphany, didn't they? And I don’t mean the “manifestation of Christ to the gentiles” in their persons. I mean an everyday sort of Epiphany. The Bible tells us that the message saying not to return to Herod came in a dream. I think that’s because the authors of the Bible were into that sort of thing. Maybe it was as simple as Caspar turning to Melchior after they leave Herod’s reception room and saying, “That Herod’s a jerk!” Melchior responds, “You’re right, let’s NOT come back this way.” And Balthazar says, “Oh my Baby Jesus, I was thinking the same thing!” And so after presenting themselves and their gifts to the Christ child, they left for their own country by another road. Just an everyday Epiphany.
Whatever we call them – Epiphanies, a-ha moments, God moments, small miracles, or, as I like to refer to them, brain blasts, they really are points of light in our lives, gifts from that little baby born less than two weeks ago. Points of light. They’re moments worth recognizing, celebrating, remembering and sharing.
I’m going to give you some class work right now. I’m going to give you one minute, and I want you to think of at least one epiphany you've experienced.
Your minute starts now.
OK, now that you have your epiphanies in mind, would anyone like to share yours?
Now some of you may have some really awesome epiphanies, but you’re too shy to share out loud yet. For you, I've brought post-it notes and pens. After you've received Communion or on the way out after service, please feel free to write your epiphany on a post-it and stick it on the board. These are points of light worth sharing! Just like in my classes at Travelers.
I’d like to end with something I don’t get to do in class.
The Lord be with you.
Let us pray.
God, help us to remember our Epiphany moments past with joy, and encourage us to recognize our future Epiphany moments with celebration. Remove from us any fear of sharing our Epiphanies with others. Let our moments of light be a beacon to others; let us set the world aglow.