“Give Me a Word: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.”
“Last year my word for the year was sovereignty and it ripened in me as the year unfolded leading me to new discoveries about myself. I resisted the word at first, as I didn’t like the sound of it. But I knew in all the internal energy it stirred up that I needed to pay attention. When I allowed my heart to soften, the word began to shimmer in me, rang long and clear like a chime (hint: sometimes the word which creates resistance in us is the one we most need to pay attention to).
This year my word is sanctuary. This past week I had to go to the emergency room while alone in a foreign country because of leg pain and shortness of breath. I was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism and a blood clot in my leg and admitted to the hospital for two nights of treatment and observation. I am being medically supervised now and will be fine, but the experience was dis-orienting in many ways (in the sense of calling me to a new orientation). I have much to process in the coming weeks, but for now I remember as I lay there in the midst of unknowing, that my thoughts were aligned to home, to my husband, to my friends, to my heart-expanding work, to a longing for the refuge of the familiar, but also a profound sense of sanctuary right in the midst of where I was. The sanctuary in a church is the place where the holy of holies dwells, but we also create sanctuaries for animals needing protection or for persons fleeing persecution. The layers to this word and how it seems to reach out to me prompts me to choose it as my word for the year to see what else it has to reveal to me.”
*What is your word for the year ahead? A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold?
*What word, phrase, or image is shimmering before you right now inviting you to dwell with it until it ripens fully inside of you?