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Monday, January 6, 2014

Theme for the Year

For several years, my spiritual director, Sister Lillian, OSB, listens as I struggle to find a word that becomes my theme for the year.  I learned about this practice from Paul D'Arcy's daily reflections for Advent and Christmas for January 1st.  Paula writes, "I hadn't wondered what I was doing with the life God gave to me.  I had just lived day to day.  I compared my life to Mary, the Mother of God, who was kneeling before the heart of God.  She was embracing everything that came her way in order walk the only way that mattered.  Consider choosing a theme for this year that helps you do something with the life God gave us."
My themes for years past include gratitude, blessings, surprise, notice.  This year I pondered several words, but one word seemed to catch my attention as the new year marched on.  On the feast of the Epiphany I read about how Joseph Cardinal Bernardin experienced the touch of God.  "It was subtle, always a surprise, an encounter that emptied me beyond anything I could have anticipated.  It is a path that embraces both beauty and terror."  In the crucible of this love, Joseph knelt  and prayed "I will allow something extraordinary to materialize in my life."  Image the power of our hearts intoning the same prayer.  Paula challenges the reader, "Are we willing to embrace this journey?"

It's really challenging to chose one word that becomes a theme for the year.  
Lillian and I discussed the word Embrace - we mulled it over and decided it was a good word!  I knew I'd have a lot to embrace this new year - real retirement, more free time, some quiet days with no interactions with people, perhaps travel.....  In January I take time to reflect on what kind of journey I might be embracing during the new year.  

I looked at all the possibilities by consulting the dictionary:

verb: embrace; 3rd person present: embraces; past tense: embraced; past participle: embraced; gerund or present participle: embracing
1.             1. 
hold (someone) closely in one's arms, esp. as a sign of affection."Aunt Sophie embraced her warmly"
3.hug, take/hold in one's arms, hold, cuddle, clasp to one's bosom, clasp, squeeze, clutch; Morecaress; 
enfold, enclasp, encircle, envelop, entwine oneself around; 
informalcanoodle, clinch 
"he embraced her warmly"

5.             2. 
accept or support (a belief, theory, or change) willingly and enthusiastically."besides traditional methods, artists are embracing new technology"
7.welcome, welcome with open arms, accept, take up, take to one's heart, adopt; Moreespouse, support, back, champion 
"most states have embraced the concept"

9.             3. 
include or contain (something) as a constituent part."his career embraces a number of activities—composing, playing, and acting"
10.         synonyms:
11.         include, take in, comprise, contain, incorporate, encompass, cover, involve, embody, subsume, comprehend More"the faculty embraces a wide range of departments"

noun: embrace; plural noun: embraces
1.             1. 
an act of holding someone closely in one's arms."they were locked in an embrace"
3.hug, cuddle, squeeze, clinch, caress, clasp; Morebear hug 
"a fond embrace"
                                   used to refer to something that is regarded as surrounding, holding, or restricting someone."the transformations brought about by the embrace of mass media"


an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically."their eager embrace of foreign influences"

My goal, as the year marches on, is to do some writing as I reflect on my theme of the year.  Stay tuned....

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