My church recently celebrated the feast of Epiphany, which marks the arrival of the sages from the east who honored the infant Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh — gifts that revealed the baby’s nature as God enfleshed and his destiny as savior of his people. Epiphanies are all around us, though, waiting for us to wake up and perceive them.

I never remember dreams, but I woke up this morning in the middle of the most vivid, wonderful gift of a dream. Once I was awake, it faded quickly, but in it a choir of people was singing and their music was beautiful — rich, warm, uplifting, surrounding — a physical presence. And they were singing that we must give the special gift that only we have to give because only we know how special it is. The song was at once for me, sung to me, and for all of creation.

When I awoke the first thing that came unbidden to my mind was the Mazarine torte I had made for a potluck dinner with friends. I had such great pleasure in making it, because I love it and it’s a bit of work to make and also because it connected me to my mother and my childhood and the long-ago neighbor who gave Mom the recipe. I loved making that special cake to share, and even though it got a little damaged coming out of the pan, I was happy and proud to offer it. It wasn’t just a cake, it was love and childhood memories and the pleasure of giving all rolled into one raspberry almond confection.

It came to me as I lay in bed that only I knew how special the torte was and all it meant to me, and I gave it to friends, which was a beautiful and joyful experience.

And then I remembered how one of Maureen’s first gifts to me was a collection of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems, which only she knew the specialness of, because they had been such a lifeline for her during the difficulties of adolescence. That was the same kind of offering — a real gift of the Magi.

I don’t remember anything about the music I heard now, except that it was so beautiful you could listen to it forever, and it had a physical presence, enfolding, consoling, strengthening, nourishing.

The words of the choir were gone by the time I was awake, but the message was that I had a gift uniquely my own and precious that I must give away. It was also that all beings have these precious gifts whose beauty is to be realized in giving them to others. And I think another part of the message is to look for the specialness in everything you receive. Look deeply to see — even ask, if necessary — what that gift means to the giver. It may be a treasure in disguise.

Looking deeper than our immediate, instinctive reaction can reveal the nature of an act or an object as precious gift. Maureen inadvertently showed me that recently when she let me know that giving me advice was one of the ways she shows me her love. She is trying to help me out, to take care of me, and I didn’t know until she told me what it meant to her. I will now. I’m so glad she helped me see past my automatic reaction, based in my own history. That doesn’t mean I’ll always take her advice, but I will know it is a token of caring, which means more than the details of any individual moment.

In truth, the revelation of love is everything.

Sarah E. Reynolds is a former editor of The Republican Journal.