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With many others today, I celebrate the Christ child made known to a traveling band of Magi.  It had been a long journey.  They came out of the east guided only by a star, their questions and faith.   The wise men must have felt both joy and relief, for surely they arrived in Bethlehem tired and sore from their travels.

Today I am more tired than sore thanks to the wonders of pain relief medication.  But I too received  gifts from  completing my long-awaited appointment with the dentist’s chair.  No frankincense, myrrh or gold are in hand, but my gifts were precious all the same, since they lightened the heaviness of  a day that I’ve fretted over since this time a year ago.

My dentist would be surprised to find himself the bearer of gifts in my eyes; his quietly spoken quips are just his ordinary dose of levity to keep patient’s distracted from the task at hand.  He may not have thought I’d remember the words to tell the story.  I was, after all, under the effects of nitrous oxide for the better part of an hour.

In my experience, the gas called laughing gas normally tends to make life calm and serene, even when someone is putting all kinds of scary torture devices into my mouth.  But today it actually lived up to its name.  In that happy place, far removed from the fear of leading edge dentistry by one of the city’s best and brightest, I wonder at my daring to call one of my  gifts  epiphany, 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.”

In no particular order, I share all my little treasures with you — the  “Quips from my dentist” alongside  (my unspoken thoughts in parenthesis)…

  • “Boy, I’d forgotten how tiny your mouth is.  But I bet YOUR friends don’t find it so small.  (Really, now, how does he expect me to reply to that, especially with a needle in my mouth.)
  • After many, many one-line quips, to which I was in no position to respond with a half-dead tongue, I thought:  (Being a dentist is a great proving ground toward becoming a stand-up comedian)
  • At the critical point where it was  time to install the implant, my dentist thoughtfully said to my tiny mouth, “Now, how am I going to do this?”  (Do I want to hear these words coming out of your mouth right now..?)

Having shared these, I realize none of my gifts may actually be viewed as an epiphany outside that far away land of nitrous oxide.  But today, it’s all I  have — these few moments of levity that brought light into a dark scary place — which made my dentist no ordinary wise guy.

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