[photo: “A Shadow of Life to Come” by Brent T. Ladd]
“And now let us welcome the New Year
Full of things that have never been.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke
One of the things in life that I am grateful for is the opportunity to begin again. “Always we begin again.” This is an important precept from the Rule of St. Benedict. We don’t have just one shot to get it all perfectly right. We have each new day to begin again. The traditions and rituals of the dawn of a new year offer this for all of us.
A year-long active practice I had not heard of until recently is that of choosing a word to focus on and exemplify your actions in the new year – or, allowing that word to choose you. In the past week, I’ve noticed people from all walks of life posting about ‘their word’ for the year.
My own introduction to this practice came originally from reading with my wife The Soul’s Slow Ripening by Christine Valters Paintner. This, in turn, led us to participate in a course she and her husband offer online through the Advent season and subscribing to her newsletter where she offered a free course in ‘Give Me a Word for 2019’. You can find these terrific resources at Abbeyofthearts.com. I was very intrigued by this idea of discovering a word and went with it.
On my contemplative walks throughout the last month of the year, I allowed myself to be open to a word choosing me. I also reflected back on the life-giving experiences from 2018, as well as the life draining experiences of last year. I allowed these experiences to also give me some insights for the coming year.
What happened is that I was given not one, but two words. Both kept arising over and over again: “Release”, and “Re-Fire”. These are the two words I will continue to consider and reflect upon for how they can aid me in navigating this new year of 2019. In many ways I think of these two words as the yin and yang for my journey this year. And, I have faith in my practices associated with these two words will move me beyond my current threshold.
My word “Re-Fire” really came to me quite strongly even prior to the suggested practice of choosing a word for the new year. I’ve mentioned the book in previous posts titled The Order of the Sacred Earth by Matthew Fox and friends published in 2018. Fox speaks at length in his chapter about this new order highlighting the great need for elders to “Re-Fire”, rather than retire. For me, this word “Re-Fire” brings to the fore a number of actions and characteristics that I desire to re-cultivate in my life.
For me “Re-Fire” includes opening more fully to the experience of awe, rekindling passion, drive, and purpose. It means turning love into action and building confidence around that purpose. It means focusing on physical as well as spiritual strength and health. It means being open and ready for new goals, new learning, new experiences, and new connections with others – all of which are reigniting my dedication to showing up and being a leader.
My word “Release” is a partner with “Re-Fire” and has many important lessons for me as well. Releasing limiting beliefs, and behavior patterns that no longer serve me, releasing my racing thoughts through meditative breathing, contemplative walks, forgiving, letting go of the need to control while training physically and mentally to become more flexible. Releasing myself from the myriad of distractions, while nurturing attention and awareness of the things that matter most and are most life-giving. Welcoming the life breath of God and embracing the process of epiphany and gratitude for life.
Already in a few weeks, these two words have made an impression upon me. My goals and direction for the new year feel stronger and more enlivened. These two words Release and Re-Fire are for me closely linked with emerging wild – strong back, soft front, wild heart. What is your word or words for this new year?