New Year’s resolutions are fine, but if you’re like me, they won’t last beyond a couple weeks. For the past decade or more, I’ve engaged in what some call a “sacred word” for the year. As I wrote about in 2011, this spiritual practice has some grounding in ancient Christianity. The word itself isn’t an idol or divine, but rather a spiritual theme for the year. One can reflect upon the deeper meaning of the word and draw strength and wisdom for one’s own beliefs, decision-making, and actions from dwelling on this theme over a longer course of time.
This past week, I put out a request on Facebook for 2021 sacred word ideas. Some responses were these words: hope, gratitude, acceptance, healing, empathy, forgiveness, mercy, wisdom, and worship. I have heard of others using words like consecration, birthing, welcoming, question, grace, wonder, beauty, recover, relinquish, or joy.
Often I have chosen a word that is something I want more of in my life, like beauty (inner, soul beauty). Once I broke with the single word idea and used a short bible verse: Speak, Lord: for your servant is listening (see 1 Samuel 3:10). One time I selected a word in early December, but then felt that the Holy Spirit gave me a different word later in the month. This past year I used two words: pray first, which helped me to develop more discipline (combating laziness) when it was my planned time for prayer.
To keep your special word in mind during the year, here are some ideas:
- write or draw your word in a decorative doodle
- photo your decorated word and place on homepage or screensaver of cell phone or electronic device
- tape your word to the mirror in the bathroom where you get ready in the morning
- put your word at the beginning of each journal entry
- insert your word on the first day of every 2021 month in your electronic calendar
- tape on your refrigerator
- paint your word
- reflect on your word while exercising
- find prayers, quotes, or bible verses about your word
- write a prayer or letter to someone using your word
- share your word with trusted friends or faith group: listen to their ideas about the theme
I can say from experience that pondering or ruminating on one word, theme, or bible verse over an extended period of time produces inward — and outward– fruit. Like Mary, the mother of Jesus, we can treasure these virtues, truths, or themes in our heart with the help of the Holy Spirit.
…Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean. –Luke2:19 (NET Bible)
Until next time, Amen!<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">