It has been a rich, full month. The busyness of early and mid-December, with its holiday parties and gift finding and giving, its many pulls that stretch our minds and hearts thin, is coming to an end. We’ve passed the longest night of the year, taking from it what we could, whether deepening and meditation, comaraderie and fun, joy, stillness, or the grief that sometimes comes to us at such times.
We are moving into the quieter, liminal space between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Throughout my life I’ve particularly valued this time. I’ve usually managed to be scheduled out of work or to be on a school break, so after the immediate busyness of Christmas passes, I’ve blessedly been able to relax and rest from the exhaustion of the work or school year, play, reflect, and find some renewed energy and spirit for the beginning of the new year. The years I’ve needed to work during this liminal time of the year, I’ve enjoyed the slower, quieter pace. It’s also allowed me to reflect, connect, relax, and find renewed energy in its own way.
This time of the year, like many of the liminal times in our lives and in our congregations, invites us to reflect in a deeper way on what has happened in this past year and what we wish to carry forward in the next year. Here are some questions I’ve found useful in this work:
- Where, for what, and for whom have I felt gratitude, thankfulness, or appreciation this year? Where haven’t I felt it? What does that tell me and how can I grow in this practice?
- Where are connections showing up that are strengthening and challenging me?
- Whose stories have I listened to this year? Whose voices are missing? Who told those stories?
- How have our Soul Matters themes showed up in my life and changed me? (They’ve been Possibility, Trust, Journey, Wholeness, Curiosity, Beauty, Expectation, Belonging, Attention, and Awe.)
- How have I lived love into the world with courage? How have I lived my values?
- What has my spiritual practice been this year? How is it feeding my spirit? What are the things I want to continue and what are the things I want to change?
I ask myself these questions with humility, grace, and courage, wishing to be transformed by them. If what I, or you, find is difficult, as I talked about in worship a couple weeks ago, by entering the dark places, the places of fear, anger, shame, sorrow, and pain in our spirits, and doing the deep work of grappling with these feelings and what they tell us about ourselves, humanity, and our relationship with the world; by bringing love, humility, and deepening connection into those spaces; by finding the lessons of these times and spaces and where they and our love and values ask us to change; by doing this work we grow. We grow, too, by letting Love, a deep, courageous Love, come into our hearts and lives, and following it.
In January we’ll begin 2020 by reflecting on the theme of Integrity. I’ll be bringing my own work from these coming weeks into that. I hope you will, too.
May this liminal space bless you and all with its gifts. May you and all be perturbed. May you and all find peace. Go in Peace, Love, and Justice, always.
Love and Blessings,
P.S.: I’ll be on vacation from Dec. 25 – Jan. 6. I look forward to beginning to catch up on voicemails and emails on Jan. 7. If you have a pastoral emergency before Jan. 7, please leave a voicemail on my cell phone or contact the lay pastoral associates at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 483-6476.