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”?