It's easy for the years to fly by. One year ends, and before you know it we're several months into the next one.
It can feel a bit dizzying at times.
It can be so easy to see the years come and go without the change and growth we seek.
There's so much value in pausing to reflect carefully on the past year and the year ahead. To sort of re-calibrate, to take stock, to savour and relish...
I've crafted this reflection as a tool to examine the last year, and also to reflect on the year that lies ahead. I've done it myself but also offered it in the context of Spiritual Direction.
The focus is on the 'spiritual dimensions of life' - which of course is 'all of life' but it is a particular way of looking at 'all of life'.
To focus on the spiritual dimension of life is to reflect on the ways in which the Mysterious Other - who we call God - has been present, revealing, inviting, directing in your life. It is to carefully consider your relationship with God and how that has changed or grown or evolved. It is to examine with curiosity and wonder your image and understanding of God. It is to seek out the love, light and life of God humming away - sometimes in the background - of your day to day life.
So, here's tool to help guide your own reflection on the spiritual dimensions of your life.
Use it however you'd like, but I recommend having a journal to jot some ideas down as you go.
Don't look for 'perfect' answers. Just enjoy discovering Truth anew.
Take a few deep breaths.
Notice the quality of each breath.
Notice that each breath is both something you do, and something your receive.
Notice how it feels right now to be you, to be this body, breathing.
Take a long slow breath - the biggest breath you’ve taken, or received, all day.
Now, imagine you’re walking
You’ve been walking for a while through all sorts of terrains.
Imagine you come across a small cabin.
It’s empty, quiet… peaceful.
Imagine you choose to go inside.
You know that you could do with a break on your journey.
You open the door - it creaks slightly as you open it.
You haven’t been here before, but somehow you know that you’re allowed to be here. For now.
This is a peaceful space of pause for you on your journey.
As you enter the small cabin, let your imagination build out the details of this room.
Perhaps you can imagine the flooring, and how that feels and sounds underfoot.
Perhaps you imagine the lighting, the furniture, the colours and scents in the room.
Perhaps you notice some details of the room: some books lined up on a shelf, the mugs on the kitchen countertop, the candle on a coffee table, the magnets on the fridge.
You notice a comfortable looking seat.
You sit down and take a breath.
Your mouth curls up in a slight smile as you appreciate this pause in your journey.
As you sit in this chair, breathing deeply, peacefully, purposefully in this cabin, you know that this space is a link, a joining, between the ground you’ve already covered, and the journey that lies ahead of you.
The travel you’ve travelled over the last 12 months, and the journey that awaits in the 12 months ahead.
As you consider the last 12 months:
Imagine the various terrains that you’ve covered: perhaps certain times have felt like wading through thick mud, or climbing steep mountains, or stumbling through weedy confusing forests?
Where have you most noticed God with you? How has God come to you? Is there a fitting metaphor or image for this?
We can notice God in the ‘mountain peak’ moments of life. But we can also notice God in the daily, ordinary events that are often overlooked. How has God come to you in the ordinary?
How has God been present in various relationships in your life? How have you experienced the joy, peace and love of God through others? How have you seen the character of God revealed to you through others, perhaps other pilgrims on the journey of life alongside you?
When did you experienced consolation - even in harder parts of the journey? That is, the experience of feeling like you’re walking towards God, or at least facing God?
When did you feel desolation? That is the experience of feeling like you’re facing away from God, walking away from God?
How has your relationship with God, or image of God changed during this journey?
After some deep, slow,, intentional breathes, imagine sitting in that chair in the cabin, and thank God for the last 12 months.
And now turn your attention to the journey ahead.
Notice how you feel immediately as you shift your focus to this journey.
What terrains do you think lie ahead for you? Down hill jogging? A leisurely riverside stroll? Hustling through a busy shopping mall?
So often we can encounter God through deep drawing and a sense of invitation. What are you drawn towards? What excites you in the next year?
What are you fearful of or wanting to avoid in this journey?
Jesuit Carols Valles wrote in his book Sketches of God: If you always imagine God in the same way, no matter how true and how beautiful it may be, you will not be able to receive the gift of the new ways he has ready for you.” Do you have any sense of how you might want to re-envisage God?
Imagine a bag that you have with you. A travel bag you’ll take with you on your continuing pilgrimage. What do you want to put in that bag? An ounce of bravery? A hand full of trust? A bellyful of peace? Do any Bible stories, characters or verses jump out at you that you wish to take with you?
How do you sense (or imagine) God - the Mysterious Other - awaiting you in the path ahead?
Take a few moments to hold all of this up before the loving gaze of God. Hold it all with gratitude and hope.