Last year at this time, I was choosing two words to help frame my year. Like many, I suck at New Year’s resolutions. They seemed to always involve a weight loss or “getting in shape” goal, a spiritually unattainable hope, and they were forgotten by about January 5.
Instead, I decided to start choosing words I wanted to frame my year. After spending some time thinking, praying, and listening to my life, the words movement and generosity were my choice. You can check the process out here.
I printed out the words and put them up at work. Several times per day I would read them. Perhaps I was just looking past these words, but I feel like those words were simmering away in my subconscious, leading me, reminding me, comforting me.
I chose generosity because it is a soul-deepening word to me. I wanted to choose to be more forgiving … less reactive … more open …. more aware of others’ needs … and I believe the world will be a better place if we all lived out of a spirit of generosity. Several times when I was with challenging people, I thought of my “word of the year”. Holding it with me for the year allowed me to imagine a more generous life and live it at specific times It is amazing how one word can change how we think and feel.
The word that was more present with me, though, was movement. Before the year began, I had a feeling that some things needed to shift in a number of areas of my life. In particular, my musical life was in need of some change, my spiritual life was feeling inert and unsatisfying, and I felt on the verge of something important in my writing life. The word movement truly companioned me through the year. Here are a few ways:
- I began playing with two amazing musicians with whom there was great musical chemistry. It was energizing and satisfying and pushed me to seriously look at producing another CD with a peace and justice theme. It looks like that will happen this year. This year I have written in the neighborhood of 20 songs.
- I was invited to do a meaningful writing project around nonviolence and peace education for a faith community which was a great challenge.
- In July I helped with a conference in northern New Mexico. Just before I left, I connected with a group of Spiritual companions I have met with for a few years. I felt I needed something significant to break through for me. I was on the verge. My time there gave me what I needed. You can read about it here. I came home energized, focused, renewed.
Another interesting experience to note is a dream I had mid-year. In it, I was in a room and needed to pass into a different place. I recall the feeling, not the details. I was fearful, like I was being pursued, and knew I had to move quickly. I don’t know if you have ever had to rescue your child from the top of a McDonald’s indoor Playland, but the only way to do it is to just to forge through and emerge with your hair flying in the air. The passage to this safer room was through a long, dark plastic tube, not unlike those multi-colored tubes. Only imagine it quite a lot smaller.
As I was anxiously trying to make my way through, I realized that I couldn’t leave my guitar behind. But, if I pushed the guitar through first or pulled it behind me, I would scratch up my beautiful Taylor cedar top something awful! And, if I held the guitar against my body, I wouldn’t fit through. I was in a dilemma and needed to act. Still stuck in that tension, and without resolve, I awoke.
It us a fairly obvious dream, really. It expressed what I was working out within myself: how to prioritize my music and my own life. It was a dream about sacrifice, about change.
There is a passage in the Proverbs that is likely borrowed from Deuternomy where the people are encouraged to write the words of life on “the tablet of your heart”. That is what choosing your word(s) can be for us.
So, I encourage you to consider what you are being called into. Take some time to think about where you are moving in your life. Pray. Do yoga. Clear your mind. Consider who you want to be in the world. And go for it!
This year, my words will be strength and joy.