For the past several years I have spent the ending days of the year in contemplation. I like to choose a word each year to help me focus (and sometimes refocus) on the dawning year. I also like to say goodbye to the year that is fading and the word that carried me through.
My word for this past year was “embrace”. I felt like I was fighting everything and felt a deep need to accept my life and situation in the “right here, right now.” I felt overwhelmed and for me that is a stressful feeling. So, this year I chose to accept whatever came to me as a gift from the Divine. The inspiration for the word came from a book I was reading by Thomas Merton:
You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.
I scribbled that sentence in my planner last year and read it often. Some days I did not want to embrace what was happening in my life. Nor did I always want to accept that the trials I went through were a gift. Brother Merton’s words often reminded me to at least try. I embraced some painful truths last year: IBS, anxiety, kids with special needs, and other disappointments within myself. Looking back at the year, I can say that despite my personal discomforts and failings this was a good year. Instead of wishing I was physically better or emotionally stronger I learned to embrace myself the way I am. Slowly, I quit trying to live up to this inner image of mother and wife that I could not be. I tried really hard to fit in places and situations that will not accept me. I walked away from a lot of that over the past few years but I kept seeing the fault as my own. I kept seeing that what makes me so different is wrong. Different is just different and I’m not sure that right or wrong should ever be applied. I’ve known these words for years but it wasn’t until the latter part of this year that I felt this to be true. There is freedom.
My word for 2019 is “cultivate”. I chose it this year while reading in Hosea. I was supposed to be reading Isaiah but got lost on a rabbit trail. The verse stayed with me and I realized it was my guide for the next year. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap according to kindness; break up your fallow ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” A tremendous amount of knowledge is lost with the translation into English. This verse is about seeking the Lord through righteousness, mercy and the light of knowledge and He will cultivate all these and more in me. I can prepare my heart to receive but He will do the work of cultivation/tilling.
I also chose three supporting words for cultivate: light, health and hearth. These are the areas of my life I want to cultivate this year. Light represents knowledge and learning. I am happiest when I learn something new or go someplace new. Health represents my desire to be healthier and more active in seeking solutions. Hearth is a reference my home that I feel I neglected a bit this past year.
I plan to keep a commonplace journal this year based entirely on my word. I hope to write each day how the idea of cultivation was carried out and to fill the book with other quotes and images I find helpful to keep focus. I also have a new goal planner that will hopefully help me to be intentional with my time this year. Last year I took on too much and felt guideless most of the time.
It is the last few hours of the year. Outside a storm is blowing loudly over our valley. The end is rolling through and the time comes to think of what was and where it went. Twilight falls on another year but life still flows on. The dawn brings another ordinary day and with it a brand new year.