Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Word: Reverence

New Year's words are proliferating across the internet.  Various bloggers suggest that one choose a word, or offer to do the choosing - a word to serve as a guide, a focus, a call back to priorities, for the year ahead. 

I'm joining the swell of movement and offering my congregation "star words"  (thanks to Marci Glass) on Sunday ~ I think. The stars were cut out and the "Star Gazing" (think: magi) sermon planned when I tumbled down the steps last week.  The new sermon, "Stars in the Desert" (think: magi, John the Baptist, Jesus' baptism, and the desert fathers and mothers, so often asked for "a word" by those who sought their wisdom), is well under way. I guess if I am delayed another week (which tonight seems highly likely) I can work stars into "Come and See."

Last year my word, chosen by me, was Serenity.  I ended up with a stained glass window hanging of my word, and a relatively calm couple of months of discernment as I switched churches and walked through a doorway into a new realm of unexpected challenges.

This year, I sought a word that would help me to look outward, to listen, observe and respond more gently ~ albeit also more firmly.  The word I chose was Reverence.   An Ignatian word.

Spiritual Director Emeritus frequently speaks about "attention,  reverence, and devotion" as hallmarks of Ignatian spirituality. I've blogged about them at least once.  I discarded the first and last fairly easily as I considered words for this particular year.  I'm a short ways down the road on attention, and I did not want a word that I might interpret to demand more in the way of work, effort, discipline, intervention.  I'm kind of ok there as well.

But reverence?  An attitude, an approach, a willingness to calmly honor who or what presents itself to you. 

That could use some work, and might enrich my movement through this world as well.  A year of this, as the spiritual director who first did it for me describes it:

"Reverence is giving acceptance to, cherishing the differences of, holding in awe the uniqueness of another reality. So, before you judge or assess or respond, give yourself time to esteem and to accept what is there in the other."

My word: Reverence.  First object of reverence: a body and life considerably slowed due to a broken ankle.


  1. Reverence is a fine word, but it has 4 e's so my hope is that no commission comes this year. For the record, I have kept Wisdom in my kitchen window.