12:25 a.m., 1/1/2013
Several times a week, the good folks from Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. (www.inwardoutward.org) send me thoughtful selections from a wide range of writers and theologians. Yesterday, I received this excerpt from Elizabeth O’Conner’s From Letters to Scattered Pilgrims. I’ll be pondering her questions long beyond this New Year’s Day.
Use New Year’s Day as a time of reflection on the year gone and the year to come. What took place in your home relations? Your work relations? Your church relations? What events in the larger community of the city, country and world most captured your attention? Who were the significant people in your life? What books and art instructed your mind and heart?
Did you create anything this year? Did you make any new discoveries about yourself? How were you a gift last year to a person, a community or an institution?
What was your greatest joy in this year gone? What was your greatest sorrow? What caused you the most disappointment? What caused you the most sadness?
In what areas of your life did you grow? Were these areas related to your joy or your pain? What are your regrets? How would you do things differently if you could live the year again? What did you learn?
Did you have a recurring dream? What theme or themes ran through your year? Did you grow in your capacity to be a person in community – to bear your own burdens, to let others bear theirs? Did you have sufficient time apart with yourself?
Did you root your life more firmly in Scripture? Did you grow in your understanding of yourself? What was your most important insight? Did God seem near or far off?
How do you want to create the new year? What kind of commitment do you want to make to yourself? Your community? To the oppressed people of the world? How do the questions about commitment make you feel? Angry? Challenged? Hopeful?
Who are the people with whom you would like to deepen your relationships in the year to come? Do you have relationships that need to be healed? What can others do to assist in your healing?
Is there a special piece of inward work that you would like to accomplish? Is there a special outward work? What are the goals that seem important to you? What are your hopes? What are your fears? What are the immediate first steps that you can take toward the goals that seem important to you?
Give thanks for all the events of the year gone, and ask that the God through whose fingers they were filtered will continue to bless them to our use. They are now the bread of our life – part of all that we have to share with another when we share what is ours to give away.