Several years ago I made the only New Year’s resolution I ever kept- to stop making New Year’s resolutions. That resolution made life much simpler. I’m old enough to know the things I need to do and honestly, I don’t need to put more pressure on myself.
A year or two ago, I had begun reading about people choosing a word for their year. A word to ponder and to guide. A word to open possibilities. A word rather than a resolution.
Then, in God’s amusing way, while attending worship at a church where I was leading an adult education class, I received a word. Everyone in the congregation chose a word from a basket of words on star shaped slips of paper. My word was “Playfulness” which I thought was silly. I was expecting something a little more, well, holy. Or serious. Or profound.
But I took my word home and thought about it. I realized over the past few years, for some very good reasons, there was very little playfulness in my life. Maybe it was time to regain some playfulness. While life didn’t become a barrel of laughs, the word “playfulness” would come to mind when I was about to dismiss something as silly or trivial. I was reminded that the silly and trivial have a place in life, as does fun. So I tried to do more playful things. Nothing dramatic but I did try to be open to play. I tried to notice and appreciate all the times I laughed during the year.
“Playfulness” turned out to be a very good word for me. God is playful like that.
This year I wasn’t at the church that gave me the word. I thought about the value of the word I received and decided to look for a word for this year. A few words came to mind.
First I thought of “presence”, which is an increasingly important part of what I do in life and in my work. But “presence” seemed a little too passive as a guiding word. Then I considered “show up”, which I know is two words, but seemed closer to the mark. But I have shown up at plenty of times and not really been present. Then, my word revealed itself- Attend.
Attend captures several important ideas for me.
In the Orthodox Church, before the reading of the gospel, the congregation is charged to “attend”. Pay attention, listen carefully, obey! As I read the Bible this year, I will endeavor to attend.
“Attend” also suggests a certain type of “presence”. A presence with more focus and less distraction. A reminder not to multi task!
And “attend” returns me to “show up”. It is easy for me, especially when it is dark and cold as Michigan winters are, to stay home. To retreat into comfort and security. Comfort and security are necessary things. But I also need to get out, and to show up for people and causes that matter to me.
2017, the year I “attend”. Pay attention, be present, show up.
If you are so inclined, share your word with us in the comments.