At the beginning of the New Year, my sister and I each choose our own word to focus on for the year. It usually is a simple word whose meaning we wish to understand as it applies to our lives. We have chosen words like, grace, truth, comfort, peace or hope—and many others. It does seem a bit silly as I describe it, but over the years we both have found innumerable lessons in the words we have chosen. The choice is not frivolous. We both spend time in discernment and in looking at our life situation to come up with the exact word that is needed. Sometimes it is a quality we need to embrace more fully: trust, for example. Sometimes it is because we need a greater appreciation of the gift of this word in our lives, like grace. And the word takes on a deeper, richer meaning. As the year progresses, we find that we experience the word in many different contexts. We hear it in a sermon when we most need to hear it. We observe how the word (quality) has increased in our behavior. The word, wonder, for example: the year I chose that word I became more aware of the wonders all around. I hiked Yellow Aster Butte with the girls and wondered at the multitude of stars as we lay on our backs gazing at the Milky Way. I also wondered how I came to be.
I know a year seems a bit long to focus on one word, but I like to really study things in depth and not settle for superficial meaning, or maybe I’m just slow. My word for this year—open—has already gifted me with new insights. I desire to “open my heart and let holy love flow through me.” In serving in a food bank yesterday, I allowed a little of that to happen.