Practice – A Word for the Year

WordsSo, it’s the end of January. How are you doing with those New Year’s Resolutions?
If you’ve already left them behind or are planning to “forget” them soon, here is an alternative suggestion. Choose a word for the year—a word such as grace, trust, joy, discipline or intention. Watch for how it is at work in your life this year. Notice when it is needed. See when you can be the messenger who brings it. From time to time reflect on the word in your journaling. Use it in your art or meditation.

Less daunting than doing something you’ve never been able to do consistently, it is just a word. But words have power. There is also power in noticing and being intentional. Remembering a simple word for the year doesn’t seem impossible but it could impact your whole year.

How do you choose this word? Has a word been floating around in the back of your mind as you’ve read this? That might be the one. Is there something that keeps coming up recently? Is there something you’ve been wanting to spend more time with? Or is there something that appeals to you? If you just can’t decide, wait a few days. Sit in silence and see what comes up. Pray about it. If you have the question, “Is this my word?” choose it. It’s really up to you to decide what seems inviting. There are no rules. You may change it if something else comes up later which demands your attention.

Now that you have your word, find a way to remember it. Journal. Do some artwork. Post it on your bathroom mirror. Whatever works for you. Consider doing an examen every now and then using the questions: How have I seen __________ at work? When has __________ been absent?

Keep an open heart and mind and see where the Spirit blows. Who knows how __________ may be active in your life this year! Watch to see how this practice serves you on your journey.

With thanks to Jane Bishop Halteman. For more ideas and to learn how she and her friends have used this practice visit her at her blog.

Change

DrinkPicture a child screaming her head off in a corner created by two different size store fronts in a mall.  Now add a circle of family members encircling the child and giving her their full attention.

What do you see?

At one time I would have seen an undisciplined child who was getting absolutely too much attention for her behavior.  I would have wondered why this family didn’t pack up this child, go home and put her to bed.

Now I might think that the child was in terrible distress.  I would notice the noise, harsh lighting, crowds and generally over-stimulating environment.  I might add in hunger and fatigue.  I might imagine embarrassment, frustration and concern on the part of the family.  Additionally, I might offer a prayer for their wisdom, patience and endurance.

What has changed?  The picture is the same but my two interpretations are quite different.  The short answer is that I am the one who has changed.  The simple answer is that I hadn’t had children when I made the first assessment and I had experienced years of parenting in the second.

The deeper answer is that I have grown through my experiences.  Life will do that to you.  It brings us experience which changes us and deepens us.  We can deepen in our conviction that we know best.  In fact my second interpretation could be an example of just that.  Or we can deepen in our compassion and desire to care for others rather than judge them.  To know which is truer I need to examine my response and discern how I have grown and what my desire is for further growth.  It is also possible that neither interpretation is correct and that I am being invited to new insights and further growth.

It’s quite difficult to know what is happening with another person’s experiences without learning to know them and listening carefully to them.

I invite you to take some time to explore a situation where your understanding has changed over the years.  How have you changed and grown?  How do you want to continue growing?  Where might you want to pause to listen more carefully?  Can you see Spirit movement in the changes in you?