An Epiphany of Stars 2016

A Ritual for the Feminist Studies of Liturgy Seminar[i]

All are invited to take a seat in the circle. The basket of stars and candle are in the center. The convener will greet everyone by inviting them to say, “I am (name) and I am here.”  After a silence, the Disney Song “When You Wish Upon a Star” is played. The group is then invited to select whatever word or words in the song that resonated with them and say them aloud several times.

[ii]When you wish upon a star

Makes no difference who you are

Anything your heart desires

Will come to you

If your heart is in your dream

No request is too extreme

When you wish upon a star

As dreamers do

Fate is kind

She brings to those to love

The sweet fulfillment of

Their secret longing

Like a bolt out of the blue

Fate steps in and sees you through

When you wish upon a star

Your dreams come true.[iii]

The basket of stars is uncovered and each person takes a star. When all have received, the Ritualizer invites the gathering to lift up their stars and recite the following in unison:

Star Light, Star Bright.

First star I see tonight

I Wish I may

I Wish I might

Have the wish I wish tonight.[iv]


The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?” Freud [v]

What do you want to share? What would you wish to say? You are invited to respond to Freud’s question by lifting your star and sharing a wish/want.  After several minutes, the first Reader begins:

Reader One:

Star Light, Star Bright [vi]

Star, that gives a gracious dole,

What am I to choose?

Oh, will it be a shriven soul,

Or little buckled shoes?


Shall I wish a wedding-ring

Bright and thin and round,

Or plead you send me covering-

A newly spaded mound?


Gentle beam, shall I implore

Gold, or sailing ships,

Or beg I hate forevermore

A pair of lying lips?


Swing you low or high away

Burn you hot or dim:

My only wish I dare not say-

Lest you grant me him.

                                                     Dorothy Parker

Reader Two:

When you wish upon a star,

Science knows they’re very far.

Even at the speed of light,

Your wish will not arrive tonight.

When you wish upon a star,

Hope will get it just so far.

The years it takes to draw it nigh

Are doubled for a quick reply.[vii]

                                                             William Elkins

Reader Three:

Why is this the Lone Star state?

The history of the Texas Lone Star is a story of manifest destiny and the American dream.

(It is also a narrative of invasion and colonization.)

It has become a symbol of struggle for independence and resistance.

(See the Siege of Bexar 1835, the battle for the Alamo in 1836, and the Mexican American War in 1846.) 

There is more than one side, more than one history, and certainly more than one story,

but there’s only one star, golden five-pointed on a field of azure blue.

Gov. Rick Perry reminded his hearers of the history on the unveiling of the Texas stamped quarter in 2004, “Its continued presence today reminds people that Texans are a different breed, set apart by their unyielding desire for freedom.”[viii]

An Epiphany of Stars


Where are we now?

Did we miss a turn or tarry?

Fate proves unkind.

We search for sanctuary.

We’ve lost our way

in a star-crossed state of mind.

Every road leads back to Rome

and white as bone

white as bone the star

on the Lone Gunman throne.


Perhaps the fault lies not in stars.

but in our rusty creeds,

our alien hearts.

It makes a difference, who you are.

We are a breed apart,

star-marred illegals,

 immigrants who bear

rare mystery in dusty hands.

Any request is too extreme.

from far too foreign lands.

Our dream was just a dream.

It makes no difference who you are.


Which side are you on

in this war of shooting stars?

Don’t call the law,

Draw a blue line in the sand.

Thin-skinned men of tin

openly carry death in both hands.

Chose well. Be wise.

In this Empire of Stars

it makes a difference whose you are.


What oath to swear?

Which law to break?

The 6th or the 2nd?

You can’t plead the 5th.

It takes true grit

to bare

                               sins and not arms,

for Christ’s sake.


But if you insist

on dancing with stars

your secret longing will unlock

the somewhere of all rainbows,

an endless inner fire,


Like bolts of azure blue

10,000 points of light,

Unfurl a milky way within

an ecstasy of night.


Without a rhyme or reason

you burn with holy fire.

under the sheen

 over the seasons


 so yielding

 all yielding



Take a risk. Make a wish.

No silver bullets,

Just open-carry stars.

                                                             Heather Murray Elkins ©2016


Behold, a lone star. (A cross made of barbed wire, bearing a star is revealed.)

And one answer to the question of what wo/men want is this song.[ix]

We who believe in Freedom can not rest until it comes.

[i] I composed this annual Epiphany ritual as an act of voiced resistance to meeting in a state that approved open carry guns in schools and worship spaces and a city that defeated an Equal Rights law for LGBTQ citizens.

[ii] The song, “When you wish upon a star,” was written by Leigh Harline and Ned Washington and first sung by Cliff Edwards as Jiminy Cricket in Pinocchio, by Walt Disney, 1940. It is considered the signature song of Disney’s corporation.

[iii] This has become a Christmas/Epiphany song in Sweden, Norway and Denmark referring to the Star of Bethlehem.

[iv] This is an American rhyme, documented in the late 19th century. Its Roud Folk Song Index is 16339.

[v] Sigmund Freud: Life and Work, Ernest Jones, 1953.

[vi] “Star Light, Star Bright” by Dorothy Parker,(www.Poem

[vii] This rhyme was composed by my partner, William Wesley, who believes that science is essential to the work of prayer.

[viii] Adapted from the History of the Texas Lone Star by Phyllis Mckenzie (

[ix]  Ella’s Song, Lyrics and music by Bernice Johnson Reagon, sung by Sweet Honey in the Rock