A new year has begun with bells and ribbons. I feel a sigh of relief that 2016 is over; while not the worst year in history, it was a challenge for us. I am looking forward to what 2017 has to offer. Mostly, I’m excited to meet this new baby. For the last few years, I have chosen a word to focus on during the year. This year, I am choosing the world KEEP.
I think it’s an interesting but ordinary word. To keep can mean to take notice, to be faithful, to conform to in habits or conduct or even to preserve among other definitions. I am still considering exactly how this word will manifest in my life this year, but I would like to take notice of my home, my responsibilities, and my commonplaces/journals. My prayer routine has gotten a bit neglected, so over December I took some time to reevaluate the routine. The ebb and flow of life can make it hard to discern when to continue something and when to simplify. I got thrown into a busy season and was wondering what I needed to simplify in order to have the most fruitful morning and evening time for myself. I’ll be sharing my routines later after I do a test run!
Spiritual Mentor: St. Therese of Lisieux
I’m known for my hesitancy, okay, my frenemy standing with this saint; however, this year past year, St. Therese has popped up everywhere. She made some large intercessions for me with the podcast (she saved my tail on timing!), she was the central theme of a mother’s retreat I attended with Suzie Andres.
St. Therese of Lisieux created the “Little Way” which is a noticing of small acts of kindness and love. It brought me back to my word KEEP. St. Therese was keeping: acting faithfully, noticing the everyday love, and conformed her habits to Christ.
Education Mentor: Wendell Berry
I am always shocked when browsing the shelves at book stores that Wendell Berry isn’t representative more often. His work is across fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. I have delved into his essays this year. When reading, he relates the common ordinary life tasks as the definite moments of beauty. He ties this ordinary beauty to the universal concept so well. I think people can relate to the simple beauty of a good meal with friends and family or the shared life experience of birth, death, and Sunday worship. What I have connected with in his work, is that he goes beyond nostalgia or sentiment. Berry shows the direct connection our ordinary keepings have on the liturgy present in our lives. He allows the reader to discover that liturgy encouraging and slowing down the reader until the intention is present. He nudges the transformation forward.
This year my reading list is fairly short; I have a lot reading for my graduate courses so I am keeping my personal reading goals low this year.