As I step across the threshold into 2015, this liminal time of endings and beginnings, I meditate on the new year and what I might look toward during the next 12 months.
Three years ago, I started using this Abbey of the Arts “Give Me a Word” exercise for a focus:
In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.
Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. 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 for this year didn’t come right away. I started thinking of this exercise a few days ago, and several words flitted about. Integrity. Heart. Love. Responsibility.
But I decided to wait until today, New Year’s Day, and do a meditation in search of “my” word for 2015. Those other words once again flitted about, but none felt “right.” I waited until I got a scroll, a rolled up word, and I went to the desert in my meditation to unroll it.
On top of a desert plateau, I carefully unrolled the scroll and looked at what was written on it.
My word was “GROWTH.”
I was surrounded by, covered in, a profusion of green vines and leaves, and I saw the Green Man, the one who looks down in many European cathedrals.
I also saw some strategic pruning, because uncontrolled growth isn’t what my word is leading me toward.
So a current in this New Year, this year of 2015, will be growth. Green growth. Abundant growth.
But not uncontrolled growth.
It’s not a verb. It’s not grow. Growth is usually a noun. And every now and then can be an adjective.
It’s a word of flow, of challenge, of hope.
This is a word I can be with for a whole year.
And while I’m pondering the New Year, I’ll share the idea I had today when I looked at my tabletop purple Christmas tree. Something in me doesn’t want to take it down. I put it up late, just a few days before Christmas, and I got lights for it after Christmas at a sale.
So somehow, it doesn’t feel quite like a Christmas tree.
But what is it??
A thought popped in to my mind as I was thinking that I’d like to keep it up for a while after Christmas.
The idea was to make it a Dream Tree. A tree to honor my dreams, night dreams and day dreams.
So I left a few of my favorite Christmas ornaments on it, and I’ll keep lighting it as long as it feels right.
And on it I’ll add some dreams. Waking dreams and sleeping dreams. I’ll make “ornaments” that honor those dreams. I made my first two ornaments today.
The first of these ornaments is my word for 2015.
It is the word “GROWTH” written in green, surrounded by vines and leaves.
The second ornament has an image from an early morning dream I had last week, one with a giant, invisible snow monster who had kind of, sort of . . . accidentally burned an alien. Oops!
That’s quite an image, eh??
The next ornaments will likely be ones to illustrate some of my waking dreams, my hopes and fears, what I seek and what I run from.
This Dream Tree will help me to remember to honor my dreams, the ones that come while I’m sleeping – as well as the ones that come when I’m awake.
How long will I have a Dream Tree?
As long as it feels right.
Right now, I have a Dream Tree lit up for New Year’s Day, a purple tree that is dressed in colorful lights and a handful of Christmas ornaments, as well as GROWTH and a giant snow monster carrying a burned alien.
What ornament will be next?
I don’t know. But I trust it will be one that is a part of my growth in 2015.
As for you, I wish you green, growing blessings as well as hope and love for this new year. And a word for 2015. And lots and lots of dreams!