Epiphany: The Places Mothers call Home by Tice Cin

Today at the Cathedral View More
8:00am Morning Prayer
8:30am Doors open for sightseeing
8:30am Eucharist
12:30pm Eucharist
4:00pm Last entry for sightseeing
5:00pm Choral Evensong
5:30pm Cathedral closes

Epiphany: The Places Mothers call Home by Tice Cin

Epiphany - 6 January

The Places Mothers call Home
by Tice Cin
featuring the drawings of Stephanie K Kane

Tice Cin is a Turkish-Cypriot writer and journalist based in North London. She is currently working on her first novel – a story set in Tottenham and Cyprus that explores the implications of defamiliarising fixed narratives.

Tice recently completed her MA in English: Issues in Modern Culture at UCL, specialising in representations of the female body in posthuman literature. She is currently part of the poetry community, Barbican Young Poets and has had her work commisioned by St Paul's Cathedral previously for their Renaissance Lates and magazines such as Skin Deep Magazine.

She has an Instagram page where she shares her work as it progresses: @ticecinwrites

When he saw their fingers in the stars
Herod called them fire worshippers.
The magi didn’t realise;
Dying suns would follow the newborn.

They gifted the baby
Darics, Persian gold
Sap cut from the trees of wadi dawkah
And karam myrrh to hang about the neck.

Then, their dreams ringing with danger,
Everyone parted ways.
Mother, husband, child
Left without a home.

By way of the sea
Through to Al-Maṭariyyah,
Mary stole into a hollow trunk of sycamore.
Hidden under wings of gossamer,
While a tormentor burned wheat fields to find her.

Arriving safely,
Only her shawl hinted
Of that hushed existence,
The embroidered design,
It hid the child’s face,
Hid her archaic smile.

Breaking bread beyond Bethlehem
Means planting seed again.
Community repeats itself
When hand after hand
Reaches into a brick oven
Each matching the other.

Yet still language hung
In a fog around them.
What comes, struggles to bed into the skin.

Even the rain speaks in riddles.
Mary hears it as she washes her son’s face.
The drops sound like people clapping,
Proclaiming freedom.
Sometimes, rain clouds become doors, opening
To a ceaseless rhythm of chasing feet
A ricochet from the ochre dust.

Bethlehem of Judea.
They told you
It was only a small village.
Two-year old usurpers.
Perhaps ten died, maybe less.

Look inside the story:
At the shape of curled back,
Hair in a long braid.
The classic mother mourns her children,
Pushing ghosts away with her hands
Folding, unfolding small clothes.
She moves with the shifting sands
In a stumble that rolls through air
Then dragged back up again
By the pits of her arms.

After Herod’s death
The word 'return' wears two faces
One of these never smiles.

Resting near their old home
Joseph's dream:
All men seem beautiful in their sleep;
Some wake with gritted teeth.

He took his family to the hills of Galilee
There, olive pickers toiled in the trees.

The child tired from his path,
Counting years in a mother’s tears.
She led him to a room of belongings,
Which his fingers would trace:
The strings of the cithara:
A sound of whistling phoenix leaves,
Each blown by the wind.


Travelling through Advent to Christmas and on to Epiphany emphasises the rhythm of time within us. We have been journeying from darkness towards the light; still in the depths of Winter, we know the glowing promise of Spring is on the way. 

As we step into the New Year, we read the story of the important Magi, visiting the infant Jesus and believing in his significance to the world. A moment of meeting, acceptance of meaningful gifts; recognition, connection and anticipation.

The Holy family, unable to bask in this honour, find themselves forced into flight, leaving community, safety and comfort, driven by protective instinct, on into the uncertainty of the future.

Yet this unknown is still part of the eternal story, patterns of history written into Scripture, the promise of identity, rescue and freedom. Did they somehow understand that this was part of the plan of liberation for the world? Could they rely on the Lord of love to hold them close in His arms?

Perhaps there was the echo of holy writing in their hearts: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ (Jer 29v11)

This baby marked out by heavenly constellation becomes himself the source of light. When we turn our faces into the light, we do not see the shadows that fall behind us. In the brokenness of our past experiences and the anticipation of the year ahead, let us search for the precious gifts imparted to us. 

Perhaps then, we can move into the unknown, with the courage to look for evidence of promise in our lives and the hope that we will find mercy, justice and strength along the way.