I don’t exactly do resolutions for the New Year but for quite a while now I’ve been choosing ONE WORD to guide me and in that one word I find what I need for the year. My word came quickly this year. When I looked at the month of January on my new calendar for 2018 a Mary Oliver quote greeted me:

“TELL ME,  WHAT IS IT THAT YOU PLAN TO DO

WITH YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?”

The moment I welcomed that question and listened to it with my whole heart my word for the year moved in—and the word is EXPLORE.  The kind of exploring I feel called to does not require a plane ticket.  It has nothing to do with exploring far off places.  The only ticket required is the ticket of attention.  The ticket of mindfulness!    This is an invitation to explore what is nearby.  I want to meet the things I step over each day.  I would like to study the wings of the dragonfly and sit so still at the pond’s edge that the frogs will come out and let me see their eyes.

I want to explore our monastery grounds— just a little each week—to find the life that waits for me unnoticed.

I want to embrace the healing oil of nature and be obedient to its prophetic voice.

I want to walk through our cemetery and allow myself to feel the prayerful presence of our Sister Ancestors.                                                        

Perhaps I will visit a few of our beautiful State Parks of Arkansas or go to my childhood church, just 45 minutes away, and revel in the rich history of that sacred place.

 Exploring the living stones of my monastery family is also on my list.  Perhaps I can gently search the faces of my sisters and detect which one might need a good word this day, or maybe even a sit-down visit and a cup of tea.

 

The word, EXPLORE, means to go out, to investigate, search out and examine more closely.  It may include crying out in wonder or uttering a voice of delight and sometimes even weeping for joy.

As I hear myself considering all the ways I might explore I am reminded of the Rule of St. Benedict that I am trying to be faithful to each day.  Certainly this would be a marvelous means of exploration.  Reading the rule again as if reading it for the first time I might be amazed at what I notice as I meander through these sacred pages again and again.  Even before re-reading it I am reminded of some of the ways the rule encourages me to live.  I ponder the call to simplicity and know immediately that I will be invited to explore my tendency to hoard certain things.  Why?  Why?  Why?

I listen again to Mary Oliver’s poetic question, and I am comforted with a sense of adventure in my exploration.

“TELL ME,  WHAT IS IT THAT YOU PLAN TO DO

WITH YOUR ONE WILD AND PRECIOUS LIFE?”

What do I want to do with my one wild and precious life?  I want to live life more consciously, seeing everything as though seeing it for the first time.  I want to come out of my self-made prison, open the cage of myself and fly out unencumbered.  I want to explore something (new or old) every day.  Each morning during my personal time of prayer I will ask myself:  So what do we explore today?  I will listen to my soul’s desire before going into the new day.  At the end of the day I will write a brief statement about my day’s exploration in my journal.

I am certain that some inner exploration will be necessary also–meaning that at some point I will be invited to explore my attitudes and opinions, my grudges, my tendency to procrastinate, my obedience to times of Lectio Divina,  my faithfulness to times of monastic silence and so much more.  2018 will be a year of exploration.

Just yesterday I explored the reason why, so often, my handwriting in my journal is illegible.  The answer came quickly: HASTE.  Now I am exploring  (and this may take me several days) the reasons for my HASTE.  Why do I hurry so much?  Why do I move so fast?  Somehow I believe that part of my discovery will include a basic lack of trust in myself and in the Holy One who guides my life.  Time  has become one of my little ‘gods’ (another thing to explore) and I don’t quite believe that I have enough time to do what I want to do WELL.   But I do have the time and when I move reflectively, trusting myself to be faithful to the moments I am better able to forgive myself when I fail.  Forgiveness of others and of self is huge and must be visited each day.

WE SHALL NOT CEASE FROM EXPLORATION

AND THE END OF ALL OUR EXPLORING WILL BE TO ARRIVE WHERE WE STARTED…

AND KNOW THE PLACE FRO THE FIRST TIME.  -T.S.Eliot

 

 

 

Macrina Wiederkehr

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