NOTE: After my Book Report post on Thursday, April 21, I’m going to take a brief break. My plan is to begin posting again the week of May 9.
One of my Lenten practices in recent years has been to describe each day in a word or short phrase or to listen for a word that invites reflection. (I use a template from Praying in Color https://prayingincolor.com to record those words.)
The last word, the only word, the word at the center is Easter. How grateful I am to arrive there, to know this word, but at the same time It is good to reflect on the journey.
One of Jan Richardson’s Easter reflections in her book In Wisdom’s Path, Discovering the Sacred in Every Season is about words that have been meaningful in her life. She finds a list she made years ago: courage, comfort, dwell, and many others and decides to make a new list. She notes that many of the words on the old list reappear, but there are also new ones: threshold, voice, longing, labyrinth, shadow, passion and others. (p. 96)
What similarities are there between my 2022 and 2021 Lenten words? What can I learn by reviewing the words from these two years?
The first thing I notice is how much more restrained 2021 is than 2022. I enjoyed the coloring and doodling process this year, and I wonder if it isn’t time to resurrect some coloring books; an activity that has been relaxing in recent years.
My word for the year in 2021 was WORD, and my word for 2022 is RHYTHM. The focus for each word is reflected in each of these images, I think.
During this recent Lent I seemed to have been more aware of the movement of each day, often expressing that movement in my simple doodles, as well as the choice of words. For example, the first Lenten word this year was “let,” followed by “flow,”, “slow down,” and “exhale.” Other words reflect my awareness of the rhythm of my day, of my intentions. “Flow” appears again and “roam” is noted three times, but other words, “steps,” “easy,” “gather,” “flexible,” “wave,” and many others all indicate some kind of movement and rhythm. The movement of God in my life and the movement of God in my own being.
During Lent, 2021, I spent more time writing in my journal about the word for the day. Often I discovered the word for the day in someone else’s words. For example, early in the Lenten season I re-read The Way of Silence, Engaging the Sacred in Daily Life by Brother David Steindl-Rast and the days’s passage often revealed that day’s word. On February 20, the revealed word was “aliveness.”
If we could measure our aliveness surely it is the degree to which we are in touch with the Holy One as the inexhaustible fire in the midst of all things. p. 118.
In my journal entry I reflect on times I feel that aliveness.
When I do things I love to do. When I am with people I love. When I read something that opens me. Sometimes when I am writing, and a word, a sentence feels just right. When I end a session with a spiritual direction client and sense they have gained insight into themselves or their relationship with God. A number of words in 2021 are related to the pandemic. "Relief" on the day we received our first vaccination and "rejoice" the day we received the second dose. Other words reflect a more solitary life--"cozy," "inhabit," "pray," "imagine,," "tucked in," and "safe." The 2022 words feel more active, more indicative of a life not so confined. Some words are found in both years--"gift," 'listen," "gather," "host," and "space," but do they mean the same thing in both years? Further reflection is needed. In fact, I intend to sit more with both collections of words, for I know there are more insights to be uncovered. Perhaps, I will continue the practice of discovering my word for the day and note them on a calendar where I can see the relationships from one day to another and over time. In fact, I will start today. Today's word is "meet.". Not only will I meet with my writing group, but as I listen to what they share and as I offer my work since our previous meeting time, I know I will meet new thoughts and perspectives. And I suspect I will meet the movement of God.
What is your word for today? What words seem to keep appearing? I would love to know.