Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Somewhere Near the Edge of Life


Inspired by a line from a poem by Robert Bly, “It’s As If Someone Else Is with Me”: I am here, somewhere near the edge of life 

Who could not believe in magic

walking on a misty morning?

Jewels hang, diamonds, from every bare branch.

The pines, proud in their winter green, sparkle,

each needle adorned with light on this gray day.

The bite of winter air, the mist hitting my cheeks,

gentle as feathers, stimulates me.

I am fully alive and magic everywhere I turn

in this thin space, somewhere near the edge of life,

somewhere I know, yet meet anew today.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

A Word for the Year



Several years ago, instead of making resolutions, I adopted the practice of choosing a word to guide my year. It’s probably more accurate to say I let a word choose me. Through a process of prayer, listening to the world around me, and reflection, a word makes itself known to me. Sometimes a word comes quickly, and other years, I find myself sifting through several different words, waiting patiently for one to emerge with clarity.

 As someone who used to be all about detailed goals and plans, this way of approaching the new year was a big change the first couple of years I practiced it. I have found it to be liberating and life-giving, because instead of focusing on what I fail to do, on goals I fail to meet, I stay open to how the year unfolds itself, and let the word guide me when unexpected changes happen.

 In 2020, my word was “Grow.” When Covid shut things down, and caused a major change to life, I could adapt. A changed environment didn’t derail me because growth was certainly possible in a different landscape than I anticipated at the start of the year. Had I set certain goals and made specific plans, they would have likely been irrelevant by mid-March.

 A word to guide the year creates spaciousness. There are many ways one can live into their word, and no two people will embody a word in the same way. Even if I have the same word as you, we’ll live into it differently because our lives and perspectives and needs are different.

 Sometimes the word has been something to reach for. One year, in the midst of turmoil and change, my word was “Brave.” It inspired me to keep going when it would have been easy to crumble in on myself. It challenged me to draw on resources deep within me, and on those days when I felt anything but brave, it reminded me not to be defined by that one difficult day.

 At the end of each year, I’ve enjoyed reflecting back on how my word has shaped my experience of the year. There are always surprises—a word makes space for the unexpected to happen. To look back and see how the events of the year, the choices I’ve made, and the ways I’m different connect to the word that has guided me encourages me to continue the practice.

 If you’re already frustrated by resolutions, I suggest listening for a word that might guide or challenge you for 2022. Pray, pay attention, and listen to what is around you and within you. You may find a word invites your attention and speaks to your soul. The process itself can be deeply spiritual, and living into the word may keep you connected to God in creative ways.