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  • Writer's pictureshelisloterbeek

A New Word for the Year

Some years are more surprising than others and for me this one was particularly remarkable. When 2022 began in Phoenix, Arizona I had no idea that it would end in northeast Pennsylvania after a cross-country move. That in itself is its own story for another time. But as I reflect on my word for the year - sanctuary - it has its own story to tell.

Words by themselves can seem to have little meaning, but when we string them together, or give a voice to them I like to think of them as growing and expanding - like a dry sponge that's soaking in water.

Emily Dickinson said, "A word is dead when it is said some say. I say it just begins to live that day."

I've been choosing a word for the year for a very long time, so if this is your first time or you're wondering what it even is, take a peek back and some other blogs about choosing a word.

Here's just a little of my reflection on the word "sanctuary" from this past year.

This verse kept coming into my space and heart:

"I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory." Psalm 63:2 NLT
"So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory." Psalm 63:2 MSG

As I thumbed back through photos on my phone what caught my attention was the amount of photos of places that have been a sanctuary to me over the past year. Some in literal sanctuaries of churches and others the sanctuary of earth. Some I recognized at the time and others I'm just finding as I reflect. Here are just a few:

And all of those bring me to this morning:

From the desert sanctuary to this quiet space in the woods. Everything is permeated with holiness.

My word for this year is "redeemed". When it kept popping into my heart I sort of wanted to shove it away. It's such a church-y religious word and sort of felt like it could have a lot of baggage. But after awhile of trying my own words (like renew and scant) I knew the Spirit was guiding me back to redeem. And so the journey with redeemed begins with a verse Psalm 18:19 "He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me because He was pleased with me and delighted in me."

Perhaps choosing a word isn't your thing. The past two years I've also been drawn to a color - green. Green isn't my favorite color, but the greening of things (think Hildegard of Bingen) has me paying special attention to greening. Or maybe it's an image of some kind or something from nature (I'm particularly drawn to bees and pinecones). Whatever it is, notice, be mindful, pay attention, still your soul and see what God may have to say to you in that moment.

  1. Is there a verse, quote or image that comes to mind as you reflect on your word?

  2. Take a look back through your photos - what catches your eye? Do any of the pictures resonate with you about your word or experience for the year?

  3. Pray and choose to give gratitude for both the spaces of ease and those that have been difficult.

  4. Choose a new word, image or color for the coming year. If it feels invited, make notes or take a photo when you notice it coming up through the year.

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1 Comment

Tamara Murphy
Tamara Murphy
Jan 06, 2023

This post is so, so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

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