finally

It has taken me almost half a month to figure out what I wanted my One Little Word for 2013 to be.  In late December, I met with my friend, Deanna, and we assessed our two year long journey with OLW.  We analyzed ourselves and shared what the experience meant to us and considered how we wanted to approach the project in the coming year.

I like having a monthly prompt or at least trying to reflect on my word each month. I like trying my best to respond and capture my thoughts and feelings in a variety of creative ways.  I tend to set aside one weekend a month devoted to One Little Word – sometimes by myself, but usually in the company of Deanna.  We meet at her house, spread out fancy paper, scissors, photos and collage materials and make a mess together, sharing our pages at the end of the day.  Deanna, on the other hand, doesn’t mind collecting for her word over several months.   Sometimes she creates several pages from a whole quarter in one weekend.   While I didn’t feel I had to attend to the timeline, I like my OLW responses to be as close to the heart of the matter as possible.

We’re both taking different paths this year.  She is using the project/process as a way to respond to some work she’s doing with a faith formation group at her church.  I’ve decided to stick with the notebook idea and respond monthly.

Because of this intensity regarding the benefits of this project, I have been particularly hesitant about choosing a word. My 2011 word “notice” was a great word for looking forwards and backwards, paying attention to what I was anticipating as well as reflecting after the fact.  But with the word “delight” in 2012, I found myself mostly looking backwards, using my word as a sieve.

I didn’t want that kind of word this year.  I wanted a word that would capture action, be more forward looking. Throughout December and on into January I have been on the lookout for a word: listening, reading, attentive to any provocation that seemed fruitful.  Finally my word broke open in my head when a friend read this poem by Jan Richardson aloud:

For Those Who Have Far to Travel

If you could see
the journey whole
you might never
undertake it;
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions
beyond fatigue
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know;
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again:
each promise becomes
part of the path;
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

Long poem but my new OLW just popped out of it for me: pilgrim – and especially the lines “take the vows  the pilgrim takes:  to be faithful to the next step; to rely on more than the map; to heed the signposts of intuition and dream; to follow the star that only you will recognize.”

My creative juices are running as I anticipate the first pages for my 2013 OLW book.

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5 responses to “finally

  • gigi2pnw

    Wonderful. I knew the first two stanzas of Jan’s poem, quoted them in a blog. I don’t think I was aware–or had forgotten–the rest. Great OLW!

  • fireflytrails

    This is a beautiful, thoughtful poem – thank you for sharing it. And thank you for the good ideas to help us all bring our OLW to life in our own ways this year. I look forward to seeing where your pilgrim journeys take you.

  • jen b.

    GREAT OLW… I want to see you travel with it this year!! Best wishes to you in 2013… I feel like OLW is scary – my fear of commitment at it’s finest. I was glad to see that choosing one little word is an overwhelming task for you, too! 🙂

  • Juliann

    To be faithful to the next step – what an awesome idea! I would love to have a OLW afternoon with you – maybe when we thaw out a bit 🙂

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