This December I have committed to join other writers/bloggers/artists/etc. in a project called Reverb10 (www.reverb10.com). Every day of the month each participant will receive a new prompt encouraging reflection on the past year and hope-casting for the coming year. Participants are encouraged to reflect through writing, art, photography, etc. (I’ll be writing my reflections). As the website proclaims:
- “[Reverb10 is] an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us.”
Because I believe that shared story has transformative power (that’s part of the power and potency of the Bible and a reason that I study it), I’ve decided to try my hand at this communal reflection – and to share it each day via this blog. Each blog will begin with the prompt for the day (as found on the Reverb10 website) and will end with my own response. If you’ve got a hankering for reflection, I encourage you to visit the site and do the same!
THE PROMPT: December 1 – One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell)
Context and perspective matter, so I think it best that I begin this project by reflecting on my own experience. In the grand scheme of things, that experience seems so very small, yet it is what I have to offer – so here goes:
I have lived out so much joy, frustration, hope, sorrow, excitement, fear and wonder in the course of 2010… but none of those words could capture the essence of the year. The closest word I can come up with that encapsulates the past eleven months of my life is TEMPERING.
Obviously, “tempering” can mean many things. In this instance, I’m drawing from two of its meanings:
- to harden (as steel) by reheating and cooling -or- to make stronger and more resilient through hardship
- to put in tune with something
The ups and downs of the year have had a heating and cooling effect that has strengthened both my will and my faith. I’m not so sure I would compare myself to steel, but I have certainly learned more about myself (my hopes, fears, strengths, motivations, prejudices and gifts) than I discovered in many a year past. And, perhaps more importantly, the realizations and insight gained through the course of 2010 have nudged me closer and closer towards a harmony with myself, with others and with God. It is as though the stretching and straining (the alternating cycles of pain and relief) of the year have wound me like a guitar string – and though my pitch is not perfect, I’m more in tune than I once was.
With all of this in mind, I hope that a word for 2011 might be DEEPENING (yes, I realize that I am in love with gerunds…). If the past year has helped stretch me into tune, then I would like to see the next twelve months bring me to a point of more complex harmony. I want to read more, love more, experience more, listen more, pray more, play more, be more – not so much in a quantitative sense but in a qualitative sense. In fact, I envision that the act of “getting rid of” may be a part of this deepening. Over the course of a couple decades, I’ve built up a lot of “stuff”, so with this transition to something new I pray for a year of less stuff, less worry, less fear, less bitterness and judgment and self-centered-ness, and a year of deeper and broader God-centered-ness.
What words would you use to describe what has come to pass and what will be?