“Give me one wild word.”Terry Tempest Williams, Finding Beauty in a Broken World,
in Abbey of the Arts, “Give Me a Word for 2021”
NATURE. My word for 2021. Again, not so much chosen as received through the twelve-day process of deep listening and discerning hosted by the Abbey of the Arts. If this word – NATURE – has even a portion of prescient relevancy as last year’s word – HOME – I’ll become converted to this as an annual process.
“For last year’s wordsT. S. Eliot in Abbey of the Arts,
belong to last year’s language,
And next year’s words
await another voice.”
“Give Me a Word for 2021”
By registering and dedicating time to the daily lessons, I crossed a threshold into that liminal, imaginary space where symbols and signs, whispers and words, prayers and dreams have potential to bear fruit for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.
“A door opens in the center of our beingThomas Merton in Abbey of the Arts, “Give Me a Word for 2021”
and we seem to fall through it into the immense depths which,
although they are infinite, are all accessible to us.”
In an early lesson derived from the practice of Lectio Divina, I reviewed last year (yes, that year!) as a form of sacred text over which to meditate and select an image or event that “shimmered.” Without question it was my time outdoors – whether in urban nature by the river, suburban treks through the golf course, sitting in my treed back yard, walking through villages and cities in Andalusia, or getting lost on the Lost Lake trail in my provincial park – that inspired, soothed, challenged, settled.
Another day’s lesson of taking a contemplative walk has become so much a part of my daily routine during these many months of pandemic life, satisfying both Annie’s and my need for fresh air and movement and giving reassurance there is life beyond our house, that it simply confirmed my knowing of Nature’s promise and powers.
Still, to stay open and not prematurely settled, I noticed my dreams as per another day’s lesson, and when consulting a soul friend was prescribed, that day I just happened to open the “year in review” e-letter from beloved friends – they whose practical life wisdom and deep reverence for Nature serve as meaningful mentoring – and read their closing words which echoed and amplified my knowing:
“May the bigness and mysteries of NatureAnn Linnea
carry our hearts through all concerns.
Let us trust the stones, the waters, the trees, the fungi.
Let us befriend the birds, the fishes, the animals, the plants.
Let us befriend one another.”
Allowing the word time to “ripen” by holding it gently while still wondering what else; illustrating the word visually through phone photos that caught my attention as we walked the snow-covered park paths; and committing to a “word rooted” practice, which for me is simply a re-commitment to heed Annie’s after lunch nudge, I feel settled that this word has come this year for me.
Writing a poem was the final day’s lesson. Today, my haiku in tribute took form:
This new year my word.
NATURE, my holy Teacher,
Healer, Guide, and Friend.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.