People around the world are marking the new year in different ways. The most common manner of welcoming another year is of course by making a list of new year’s resolutions. Over at the Abbey of the Arts, the spiritual community that I belong to, we prepared to welcome 2014 by pondering upon the one word that would provide the spirit for the new year.
Choosing my word for 2014 was easy – the word “Peregrinatio” reverberated in every fiber of my soul the moment I read about it in a reflection written by the Celtic priest Dara Malloy. For the whole year, “Peregrinatio” will set the course of my life; the word will provide me with the inspiration, nudges and challenges I will need as I move on.
I will not bore you with the meaning of the word, nor of its significance in my life. What I would like to do instead is to encourage you to choose your own word – or allow a word to choose you. Why choose a word? Because one word can change your life. This one word that you will carry with you throughout the year will provide you with inspiration when you need it. It will challenge you when you feel low. It will stimulate you, encourage you to grow.
The practice of choosing a word as a guide on one’s spiritual journey has its roots in the times of yore, when women and men fled to the deserts to strip themselves of all material distractions so that they could uncover their soul. Asking for a word was a tradition followed by these desert nuns and fathers. It is a practice that has been adopted by modern spiritual seekers. It is a form of Lectio Divina.
When a word surfaces in your mind, grab it, write it down and then play around it with. See how it feels to say the word. What meaning does it have for you at the moment? What message does the word have for you right here and now? Carry the word with you the whole year round. When a problem seems to be so daunting, grasp your word and seek its light – what advice does it offer you in such a difficult time? When you feel stuck, pluck your word and see where it will lead you.
So, go ahead, be good to yourself! Take a few minutes away from all distractions and choose your word for 2014.