Monday, January 5, 2015

In which I jump on the bandwagon (OneWord 2015)

I confess: I couldn't let go.

I've never had a single word to frame my year, through participation with OneWord365, though I've tried. I've chosen words that quickly deflated, that I wrote once or twice about and forgot after that. More than anything, I think the trying was half-hearted. I didn't really care all that much, but I thought the idea was cool. 

And even though I wrote last week how I didn't have a word for this year, only an image of where I was, that could have been enough. I do love how images speak. But I held on, because I felt it stirring, right there, at the tip of my tongue. I suspected there was a word waiting at the edge if I only persisted.

And there was.

* * * * *

My word came to me, not through God, per se, or a flash of insight, but through a thesaurus. That, and listening to where my life is already moving. Maybe it's just that I know, in general, this is how God speaks to me. He makes me think and ponder and search, and often in the end, listen and choose for myself. So I brainstormed a list of words and mulled them over these past several weeks, with reflection, openness, prayerfulness. And in the end, I still wasn't quite satisfied with the list, so I thumbed through my thesaurus and scavenged for synonyms near the words that felt so close but not close enough, until one made my heart beat a little harder than the rest.

For some time, I've treasured the symbol of a Phoenix. The beauty of this mythical bird dying and rising from the ashes, again and again, ushering healing through this process of loss and rebirth, rumbles in the deep of me. It sings of identification, for this has been my life, too. A series of deaths, of ashes, of life smoldering and bursting into flame, of rising to start again. 

I'm beginning to wonder if all of life wasn't meant to be this.

This is why resurgence caught my attention. The origin of this word dates back to 1808, where it first indicated, to rise again

Rebirth. Comeback. Rejuvenation. Resurrection. Renewal. Return. Reawakening. Triumph. 


* * * * *

On new year's eve, I walked a labyrinth for the first time. I felt, somehow, I needed to ready myself for it before stepping inside, but I didn't know how. So I just stepped in. With one way in and one way out, the cream colored path framed in a dark counterpart twisted back and forth in switchbacks like cloth intestines, heading toward the same center for all who walked. And we all walked it different, solitary, some times getting in each others' way or slowing one another down. And we all walked it communally, in this dance of giving each other space to be as we shared the same space of our journey. 

And I saw, as I walked, there is no readying for this exercise. The walking is the readying. The living, the praying, the meditation, the keen attending to a moment. It was the most meditative prayer I've offered, I think, and for the forty minutes or so I took to walk this path, scenes from the year replayed in my thoughts. My walk through the labyrinth mirrored my year in a symbolic, yet very physical way, and I had the sense I was walking this into the new year as an extension of the old, more than a fresh beginning. Carrying on with the momentum already set into motion through 2014, rather than clearing the slate and starting fresh.

I finally reached the center and settled in a space on the floor, staring ahead at a wooden cross on the back wall. I sat and drank this moment until full, stood up on knees that croaked into the quiet space about us, and headed back the way I came. The same path, but a slightly different view this time around. I reveled in the expansiveness of the path, at the same time, the comfort of having edges hemming us in.

I looked over at Ricardo, peacefully reclining in his seat along the side of the labyrinth and felt my cheeks warm with joy.

I’m glowing, I think. 

* * * * *

A few minutes before midnight, we all huddled in a half circle around a table now set in the center of the labyrinth. The priest, in normal clothes, led us through the liturgy of the Eucharist. He broke a loaf of bread in two and poured champagne into two chalices, extending an invitation for all to come who were hungry, no matter where we were on our journeys of faith.

“Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us," he spoke to us.

"Therefore let us keep the feast.  Alleluia," we answered, all our voices together.

My eyes burned hot around the corners with these words. The wonder and scandalous grace and generosity of it all. Church and I have had a strained relationship for much of this year, and honestly still do, and yet this night it hit with the force of a flock of geese stirring up the wind with their wings as they descend on water: I’m a little closer to what my soul craves here in this moment.  As I walk this solitary path in the company of others, granting each other the space to be as we are, I sense somehow I am heading toward home.

Ricardo grasped my hand and we edged forward to receive the first feast of our new year together. In past years, we’ve ushered in the new year dancing. We are dancing this year, too, a quieter dance, in the company of strangers who are also, mysteriously, family.

Joining my words with the Unforced Rhythms community, for the first link up of 2015.


  1. Amber, great beauty abounds in the words that you say. Your word *resurgence* has some echoes that resonate with mine - healing. Some of the same synonyms - rejuvenation, renewal. There is a promise in our words. A sense of hope. I'm excited for both of us as we walk the labyrinth that will be the year 2015. And yes, a continuation of the lessons and rhythms of last year. Not a new beginning, but a deepening.

    Dancing along with you.


  2. Absolutely beautiful. When we meet up, I'll show you my phoenix - I fell in love with the meaning, the imagery a year ago and tattooed myself a reminder. It's my favorite tattoo.

    Resurgence is epic. I have no doubt you're going have such a year - epic, and full.

  3. love that, resurgence. so powerful, so inspiring, so much returning into who we are with the ashes of what we thought we were smoldering at our feet.

  4. Oh, my word! This is SO beautiful! I could just feel a small bit of what you must have felt. Your words are so moving and compelling and just draw me right in to where you are. I am still seeking God for my one word....I loved your idea of the thesaurus. I use it often while writing, but hadn't thought of using it to help me define this sense I am feeling. God bless you this new year as you resurge. I have a feeling you will emerge and expand even more beautifully than ever before. You are a blessing here in blogland, and I am so thankful God allowed our paths to cross this past year!

  5. I love your word resurgence. You're the first I've seen use that one! I'm excited to see what God is going to do with it. I also love that you walked a labyrinth on New Year's Eve. How fitting. I've only walked one but it made a deep impression on me. I'd love to experience it again, because it is that--an experience.