I began the practice of asking for a “word for the year” last year at the suggestion of Abbey of the Arts. This is the suggestion, based on the tradition of going to the Desert Mothers and Fathers for “wisdom and guidance”:
One tradition was to ask for a word – this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into. The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.
- What is your word for the year ahead? A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold in your life?
My word last year was “nurture.” I found myself going back to that word throughout 2013. I paid attention to it and focused on nurturing myself and others during the year, my first year after completing breast cancer treatments. That word came almost unbeckoned. It came as soon as I thought, “What word speaks to me for the year?”
But this year was different. No word came immediately. So, on New Year’s Day, I did a meditation asking for my word.
What I got was a word that puzzles me.
“Nurture” seemed pretty obvious. But not my word for 2014. It is indeed a word that will challenge me, one I can wrestle with and grow into.
That word is “respect.”
I’m not sure what or whom I’m to respect . . .
But that’s the point, right? For me to be challenged, to grow into the word. To wrestle with it, perhaps as Jacob wrestled with the angel, ultimately asking for blessing.
So this year will find me asking for respect (like Aretha?), looking for respect, finding it, giving it, receiving it.
And more that I can’t even anticipate.
Because words for the year are wise. Wiser than I am. But leading me to wisdom.
If you’d like to share your take on the word “respect,” please leave a comment below. We all have different perceptions and emotions attached to words, and it may be that yours offers me an insight I need now – or will need later in the year.
And if you haven’t already done so, you might consider asking for a word for the year for yourself. If you do, I’d love it if you’d share that with me in the comments, too. I find it really interesting what we’re each called to and how we each grow into wisdom.
You might say I appreciate and respect your insights and sharing. See there? I already get to practice my word!
I hope your new year is blessed and brings you what you need.
I trust that it will, just as it will for me, too. Some respect – in ways I can’t predict but that will be exactly what I need.