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Being Benedictine

Living the Rule of St. Benedict in Daily Life

Month

January 2022

2022 Word of the Year

“This tradition (for desert mothers and fathers) of asking for a word was a way of seeking something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime.  The “word” was often a short phrase to nourish and challenge the receiver.  A word was meant to be wrestled with and slowly grown into.”

Christine Valters Painter

A new year is a reminder of our opportunity to begin again, the essence of “being Benedictine.” That simple tick of the clock from midnight to 12:01 a.m. marks in time our deep longing to begin again. Choosing a word of the year can be a prayerful intention to focus our awareness on an idea, a feeling, our hopes, or even an attribute we want to cultivate in our lives.

There are no rules for choosing a word. There is nothing magical about one word over another, but choosing a word that settles in your heart can reveal unexpected layers of meaning and new levels of understanding that can be both spiritually comforting and challenging.

I did not choose a word for 2022. My word for this year, CONSENT, chose me.

As I was re-reading lines I had highlighted from The Exquisite Risk by Mark Nepo, I was struck by this paragraph:

Both attracted to and challenged by the word CONSENT, I have spent several weeks considering what it might have to teach me. On first impression, consent sounds like a route of less suffering, acceptance of what is, peacefulness. Count me in for this kind of bliss!

But CONSENTING is not so easy. To consent sounds so passiveto give up or compromise, to settle. My nature is to resist what I do not prefer, to solve problems or change circumstances so that they are more ideal, to somehow fix even what I cannot control. I have a tendency to fight, to flee, to figure out, rather than to consent, to surrender, to let it be. 

Miss Fixit: A card that I made several years ago when I became aware of my tendency to want to to fix.
Continue reading “2022 Word of the Year”

Ring Out, Wild Bells! A New Year Prayer

Ring Out, Wild Bells, a poem sung by Alana, is a heartfelt, prayerful intention to ring out the old and to ring in the new. The poem, In Memoriam, (Ring out, wild bells) was written during a time of grief, nearly 150 years ago by Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). The lyrics ring true for both letting go and welcoming in—letting go of the false, feuding, dying, grief, pride, partisan divide, and civic slander WHILE welcoming in the new, true, noble, sweet, pure, love, truth, light, and peace.

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy. Music is the electrical soil in which the spirit lives, thinks and invents.”

― LUDWIG VAN BEETHOVEN

(Image above taken at St. Jacob’s Church bell tower in Telc, Czechia)

Listening to the sweet and soulful songs of Alana Levandoski is prayer itself. I discovered Alana through the Center for Action and Contemplation and have used her contemplative songs and chants in retreats I have led and in my own prayer practice. Whether setting music to her own words, or lyrics drawn from poetry or scripture, her singing is elevated prayer.

Alana writes: “Ring Out, Wild Bells is taking off again… moving from last year’s 75,000 + views to nearly 90,000 as of right now. I even heard from the CBC Weekend Morning Show who saw the video, and want to do an interview with me for their first show to air in 2022.” Interview with Alana HERE.

And at the bottom of this post, learn more about Alana, how to find her music, and some additional prayerful songs to start your new year.

Enjoy Alana’s new video of Ring Out, Wild Bells!

Continue reading “Ring Out, Wild Bells! A New Year Prayer”

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