Choosing a word of the year can be a prayerful intention as well as creative expression. There is nothing magical about one word over another, but I find the process insightful and revealing—both spiritually comforting and challenging. I worked with the idea of doorways and thresholds for several weeks after realizing how many cards in my SoulCollage® collection had images of doors on them.
“Doors are places for pausing, of finding your key, of knocking, of asking for entry. Thresholds carry us from one place to another – usually from outside to inside or the other way around. They are symbols of our inner movements…. I believe that our lives are about crossing one threshold after another. Thresholds are challenging places to be because there is no map. There is no ten-step plan for how to move through this space. We feel disoriented there and impatient in having to wait.”Christine Valters Paintner
I thought about selecting a word like welcome or becoming, or simply doorway or threshold. The images resonated, but the words were not quite right. I considered what it feels like to stand on the threshold of the unknown, to step through the doorway of uncertainty. The moment of crossing over can require courage, honesty, a surrendering, a willingness to be transformed.
“Our uncertainty is the doorway into mystery, the doorway into surrender, the path to God that Jesus called “faith.” -Richard Rohr, The Wisdom Pattern: Order, Disorder, Reorder
Extending hospitality to guests, as St. Benedict instructed in The Rule, can be practiced towards the uncertainty that life brings, the times when we can no longer control our circumstances and we must surrender our expectations. We can extend hospitality towards all that is mystery and trust that we will be transformed in the process. We may not know what we are walking into, but we can grow into acceptance of whatever comes.
“We need to honor what is on both sides of the doorway: to celebrate the whole of our lives, the self we are leaving behind as well as the self toward which we are going.”Rev. Amy Zucker Morgenstern, On the Threshold
The threshold moment requires an acceptance of what has been, what is, and what possibilities may come. The threshold moment, if we wish to honor each moment as life-giving and transformational, forces us to see our truth, the truth of our desires, and the truth of our circumstances.
“If you are interested in transformation, no element is more important than developing a love of truth. As we learn to accept what is real in the present moment, we are more able to accept whatever arises in us, because we know that it is not the whole of us… When we are willing to be with the whole truth—whatever it is –we have more inner resources available to deal with whatever we are facing.” –The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.
And this brings me to my 2021 word of the year: TRUTH.
Truth is not arrived at once and for all but revealed in many ways and over time. Truth can be knowing when to let go of an old story, a disappointment, or past hurts. Truth can be stepping away from an unhealthy situation or relationship, even though comfort and familiarity give the illusion of truth.
Truth is a dance between letting go, welcoming in, and knowing when the right time is for each. Experiencing truth requires a surrender to the Divine. The threshold, a liminal and uncertain space, brings us to the doorway where, in the fullness of faith, we enter mystery. Truth-telling is first about our own soul, “it’s condition, the place of resistance and defiance, from which you see the world both as it is and as it could be, as it will be.” –Victoria Safford, The Gates of Hope
I draw strength from the words from this prayer by Fr. Bryan Massingale to speak and receive truth:
Come, Holy Spirit of Truth. Give us the courage to speak uncomfortable truths, to face painful truths, to accomplish difficult truths, to dare powerful truths, to seek healing truths.
Come, Spirit of Truth. Breathe within us and inspire us to speak words of wisdom and challenge, words of lament and sorrow, words of resolve and renewal, words of justice and accountability, words of welcome and inclusion, words of healing and peace.
Come, Spirit of Truth, and set us free. Come, Holy Spirit. Fill the hearts of your faithful. Enkindle within us the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, And we shall be re-created. And you will renew the face of the earth. Let the Church say, “Amen.”
Consider some truth-telling prayerful and creative practices. Please share in the comments what truths resonated with you.
- Choose a piece of art that speaks to you. It could be a painting, song, dance, video, poem, mandala, SoulCollage® card or anything! It could be something you created, that someone else created or from Nature. Journal about what resonates with you. What truths are speaking to you? What does it add to your becoming?
- Choose a word for the year (or let it choose you.) This process can be a prayerful intention as well as creative expression. My 2020 words of the year were “Carry On.” Links to previous years are at the bottom of that post.
- Create and bless a mandala. Learn more in this 10-minute video on meditating and drawing mandalas using the art and poetry of Hildegard of Bingen.
- Create a SoulCollage® card. Consider creating a card to represent threshold or doorway opportunities, your word of the year or an archetype such as your “Inner Artist” or “Inner Critic.”
- Contemplate with a previous SoulCollage® card. Is the card truly finished? Is there something you have learned, an insight gained, a truth revealed that may bring your card to its fullness?
- Create a 2021 calendar with images that resonate. My 2021 calendar is a collection of door photos from around the world.
- Meditate on “Ring Out, Wild Bells” and the call to truth-telling
- Read and reflect on A Speed of Soul Post – Staying In The Story by Carrie Newcomer. “If my own growth and transformation is likened to a book, I cannot skip the middle part, I cannot complete the story by refusing to look at the truths revealed along the way. Reconciliation cannot happen without first acknowledging the truth. Healing cannot happen without wrestling and learning from our own mistakes and misjudgments (small or grievous). What does it mean to live into what Howard Thurman calls “devastating sincerity”?
January 27, 2021 at 10:38 pm
Jodi – my word is simplify. and I have been purging and plan on keeping it up to really simplify!!! The Mennonite Thrift Store in Seward is the benefactor! bev. henkel
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January 28, 2021 at 10:33 pm
Blessings to you Bev! Thank you for sharing!
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January 28, 2021 at 7:06 am
Good Morning, Jodi:
I am finally getting to this blog post. How can I be so busy when I am going nowhere. Today, I sat with your creation during my morning quiet prayer time. First, thank you for sharing your gift of words and images. So much of what you wrote resonated with me. As I had said earlier, I did an Advent retreat for the Franciscan associates in our community using the images and theme of doors. It was a powerful experience.
What I continue to contemplate from that retreat is the realization that each of us have a universal experience of doorways, but also a very personal one. At one point in the retreat, I asked them to contemplate what the door of their heart looked like…to let the image emerge in prayer. What they shared was everything from a dutch door, an open door, a door ajar, a glass door, etc. That discussion was a good reminder of how personal our relationship is with God, but also how collective. There was great energy in the sharing as they deepened their understanding of themselves and their divine relationship. Plus, they began to recognize what it meant to say that each of us in on our own spiritual journey.
I like how Richard Rohr has been putting the fullness of the journey in recent posts. He says that each of us has “my story” and live in “our story” and are grounded in “the story”. The key to fullness of life is to be intentional about living in all three. To see each in the spirit of Truth (your word) shapes that key.
Thank you for sharing your word with your readers. As I posted on FB earlier, My word for 2021 is Hope. The word for the previous years of has been Joy. (I think it came from the desire to see light during some very dark years) I chose Hope this year, not as merely a feeling, but as a life stance, a touchstone.
Through 2020, I have been choosing to lean into Hope as the pandemic, social unrest and desire for justice, and dysfunctional politics and ugliness swirled around me, our community and the world. As I read your blog, I thought to myself that as I stand on the threshold ready to leave the darkness and move to a more light filled, joyful life, I stand armed with Hope. Without it, I would be fearful to move through the doorway.
My hope is grounded in the Truth that I was created from Love to Love. Without Truth, Hope is just sentimental. With Truth, Hope has a power to transform me personally, to bring our community to a “more perfect union”, and to ultimately impact the world moving all creation closer to God’s dream for us.
Thanks again, Jodi, for sharing. You are such a blessing! Have a great day, Ellen
Ellen Lierk email@example.com
…do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others .Phil 2:4
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January 28, 2021 at 10:36 pm
So beautiful, Ellen. This is so powerful–“My hope is grounded in the Truth that I was created from Love to Love. Without Truth, Hope is just sentimental. With Truth, Hope has a power to transform me personally, to bring our community to a “more perfect union”, and to ultimately impact the world moving all creation closer to God’s dream for us.” You have captured so well the power of truth-telling–it is with hope that I want to face and tell the truth.
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