Category Archives: One Little Word

One Pilgrim’s Process – March SOL#6

“To journey and to be transformed
by the journey
is to be a pilgrim.”

“Thank you for your kindness.”sols_6

In this case, I was being thanked because I intentionally took a stance of non-responsiveness to an oversight by this individual. I have had people comment on actions I have taken or gifts I have provided in a way that acknowledged the kindness of my response but this comment felt different. Perhaps it was because my kindness was actually an act of forgiveness, something not often recognized.  I think all of us practice forgiveness in large and small ways throughout our days and we forget we are the receivers and givers of these acts of kindness.

This situation could have passed by without words from either one of us but instead my friend reached out to make note of my choice and to recognize me for it.  It came from a gratitude deeply felt and I am receiving it with a bow of my heart to my friend for his willingness to be openly vulnerable.

One Pilgrim’s Process – March SOL #4

“To journey and to be transformed
by the journey
is to be a pilgrim.”

sols_6I had a few pen pals when I was young but I never got to meet them.  I have had the profound joy of meeting two women I met through blogging, Julianne and Gretchen.

On Saturday, I played host and tour guide to Gretchen – despite a cold rain – and we did a bit of catching up.  While we both reveal a lot about ourselves in our blogs, there is much going on in our lives behind these public musings. This was only our second meeting in the flesh, but we have chosen to trust each other.  It was good to go behind the curtain a bit, discuss the health and welfare of family members and share the little dreams we are nourishing on our windowsills, fearful still of early frost.

One Pilgrim’s Process – March SOL #2


“To journey and to be transformed
by the journey
is to be a pilgrim.”

Yesterday I started with a red mug, today I lit a candle.  I have some friends who light a candle every morning.  I envy them.    Lighting a candle, breathing in the scent, sitting calmly in its glow – that would be such a simple and calming way to start my day.  I haven’t figured out how to intentionally make a candle part of my morning routine.

But today I lit a candle.  It is like whispering a centering prayer.

Today is an art day.

One Pilgrim’s Process – March SOL #1


“To journey and to be transformed
by the journey
is to be a pilgrim.”

I have a collection of coffee mugs that I love.  My son loves them too.  I’m sure when he comes to the cabinet in the morning he doesn’t think about what color mug he wants to drink from.  But I do.

I’m realizing I don’t often choose the purple ones unless they are the only ones available.

Today I wanted the red one.

I have things to do today.  I’ve got a bunch of soft bananas that need to be baked into bread.  I mopped floors and vacuumed yesterday, today I need to focus on countertops and bathrooms.  I’ve got another Stations of the Cross art project to figure out before the Good Friday vigil rolls around – that is one month away!

Red often means “stop” but as a coffee mug color choice, it stands for “go” – action, stepping out – and into it.


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.


I’m catching up a bit with my One Little Word notebook.  I decided my entry for June would be a photo story on my footwear and how it relates to the “delights” of this season.

My slippers were a Christmas present a few years ago.  The soles are wearing thin and I would like to replace them but the sheepskin in the toes is still fluffy so I will make due for a while longer.  At home, I usually have my slippers on.  When July comes and it finally gets hot enough for me to enjoy the coolness of tile on my tender arches, I forgo my slippers and begin the summer task of toughening up my feet for pavement and beach walks.  But every morning I pop on my old slippers to take the dog out for her morning constitutional and they are the last thing I kick off before plopping into bed at night.  My slippers bookend the day for my tootsies.

The boots were a luxury purchase for me a while back.  They are lined with sheepskin and come up to mid-calf.  The first heavy rains of autumn have me digging in the hall closet for them.  I pull them on over my sweats for walking to the field with Sasha in the morning and then leave them standing by the closet door where they remain ready for little jaunts the rest of fall and winter.  It isn’t until a measurable snow fall that my boots get christened with a real seasonal walk, the soles becoming caked with mud and debris.   When the spring rains subside, I toss them back into the closet as though removing them from the hallway will propel me more forcefully into a warmer and dryer season.

Sandals and sneakers  become my shoes of choice in late spring.  It is with childlike joy that I dig them out in late spring or whenever it becomes warm enough that I am reaching for skirts and Capri pants. Real summer weather banishes my work and closed-toe shoes to the bedroom closet. Parked like school buses, they will remain out of the way until the beginning of the school year.  All season long I alternate between sandals and my walking shoes, depending on whether it is town or country that beckons.  In between outings, I’ve usually kicked the shoes to the edge of the doorway by the dining room where they catch at the corner like flotsam from the tide on a harbor buoy.

There are two kinds of footwear I keep in my car ready for a spur-of-the-moment adventure:  hiking shoes and flip flops.  This way I can heed the prick of a wild burr on whatever journey I am on – stopping by a shoreline for a quick photo, hiking up a little hillside to see the falls I think might be there, or the decision to shed shoes altogether and slip on flip flops when my feet get dirty or hot or both – and the way home is long.

reflections: One Little Word

2011 was my first experience with One Little Word.  My word was “notice.”

I have thoroughly enjoyed this endeavor.  While I didn’t always like the prompt suggested by Ali Edwards, and occasionally created my own, I found the questions and tasks provocative and worthy of thought.  Discerning why I wanted to engage in the prompt, or not, was often the most valuable part of the exercise.  It helped that I was intent on creating a book that I treasured, not just a collection of monthly projects. (It was sweet to hear my daughter say, “I want this book  someday.”)

The months that were the most fun for me involved photography, art and poetry. Prompts where I felt forced to take a perspective that wasn’t natural for me were the most challenging but thinking about why the prompt bothered me told me things about myself I hadn’t been aware of.

I love the word I chose this year; in fact I don’t think I’ll really be leaving it behind next year, rather, my new word will become a layer over the old – like lace over silk.  I am sure the two words will interact with each other in ways I can’t imagine.  I’m excited to see what happens.

I’ve been thinking hard the past few weeks about a word for 2012.  Knowing how it felt to explore my word creatively and in writing over this past year has me looking for a word with lots of dimensions.

Right now I have chosen the word “thirst.”  I’ve got a week for it to take up residence in my soul before I begin a new journey.

update 12-31-2011
I thought about being thirsty all week and realized I was most thirsty for delight – 2011 was a tough year.  So my One Little Word for 2012 will be “delight.”  Bring it on!