Sunday sabbath & the start of a new year

by susan on December 29, 2017

Advent may have signaled the start of a new year in the life of the Church, but entering a new calendar year is significant, too. It always feels like a fresh start & another new beginning.

It also makes me wonder:

Am I ready…and, what does it even mean to be ready?

Over the past few years, I’ve become more intentional about taking time at the end of the year to pause & reflect on where I’ve been & where I’m going. It’s part evaluation, part remembering, part giving thanks & part looking forward. It’s amazing what I forget, what I fail to notice & what I learn in the looking back. It’s been a super helpful practice for me & I wondered if it might be helpful for you, too.

This year, with The Well’s final Sabbath Sunday falling on the last day of the year, I’m planning to spend part of my Sunday morning in reflection. Patching together a few resources I found through Sacred Ordinary Days (so much great stuff there!), I’ve created a modified Yearly Examen (see below). Instead of doing this alone, I wonder what might happen if some of you joined in & we shared where we’ve been & where we are headed with one another. I can imagine some rich conversations & some personal clarity & maybe even a deeper sense of readiness for the coming year.

With that in mind, I hope you will consider joining me in carving out some time over the next few days to look back & forward (or maybe you already do something similar & can share about it!).

The “Examen” is an Ignatian spiritual practice that is basically an extension of the “Daily Examen”. The Daily Examen is the practice of pausing twice during the day (at midday and at the close of the day) to examine God’s activity in and around you and to express both gratitude & confession. There are a series of prompts to guide the Daily Examen, and likewise here are some prompts to guide this yearly one:

  1. Find a place where you can focus, listen & sit quietly. Take a few minutes to become present to yourself & to the Spirit. Take a few deep breaths.
    Take a few minutes to mentally pass through each month of 2017, remembering the needs that have been met, the experiences that have been shared, the hope, joy, peace & patience that have sustained you. As things come to mind, give thanks. Name & write/journal these reflections:

    1. Things, experiences & people I have loved & enjoyed this year:
    2. These influences have shaped my life (persons, transitions, books, events, etc.):
    3. These convictions I have lived by:
    4. These *insights I have gained in the school of life this year:  (*insights into yourself, God, the world, human nature, Jesus, love, religion, prayer, etc.)
    5. These risks I have taken:
    6. These sufferings I have passed through:
    7. These scripture texts/stories/words/images have lit my path:
    8. These things I regret about this year:
    9. These are my unfulfilled hopes & desires:
  2. Sit with these reflections. Ask the Spirit to reveal any ways God has been particularly present, moving &/or creating this year. Does a theme, a word or an image come to mind? Does there seem to be something God may be inviting you deeper into as you move into 2018? Is there a path unfolding?
  3. As you look toward the upcoming year, consider:
      1. A word I want to live into this year is:
      2. A habit, attitude, path or way of being in the world I want to embrace more fully is:


Happy looking back & forward & happy [almost] new year!


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