• shelisloterbeek

Word for the Year: Reflection & Anticipation


Like a lot of people, I choose a word, or usually more like a word chooses me for the year. There's nothing magical about the word, or even how it's chosen, but there is in fact something quite mystical about it.

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

What I find most interesting is how the word directs my noticing throughout the year. It pops up in the most unassuming places causing me to take a moment to think about it.


Last year my word was "stem" (you can read about it here). And I've found stem with her connectedness and focus in a thousand different things throughout the year. Probably the most interesting thought for me has been where all of the roots focusing their depth, nutrition, communication and life to come together for something strong and beautiful to spring forth.


In my life, whole as it is, I see spiritual direction, formation, spiritual practice and most recently yoga training (amongst many others) all coming together in the focal point to my stem, my being of who God has created me to be in the world. All of these life-giving roots that create my sturdy stem which produces blooms and fruits. It has been a lovely year with stem.



Sometimes it takes a few weeks into the new year to see what word will come. But this year the word came to me early in December - "sanctuary". I knew it when it arrived because it came out of nowhere, blaring at me, with neon lights, and sirens and you get the idea. And I've already seen it's presence several times. I'm so excited to see what "sanctuary" has to teach me this year.


I'm always curious to hear people's word for the year and I'd love to hear yours and what meaning it has had for you this past year.






Choosing Your Own Word for the Year

Maybe you've chosen a word, but find it difficult or perhaps this is your first time - perhaps you will find the following helpful.


(Sidenote: I see all of life as prayer with God - so consider all of this in prayer.)

- Spend some time clearing your thoughts. Maybe it's some deep breathing or taking a walk. Being present to the Holy Spirit without all the to do's running around may help you to notice what's coming to you.

- Don't rush it. Sometimes it takes time - a few weeks even to come forth.

- Take it for what it is - don't try to rationalize, or think your way to a "better" word - even if it seems bizarre.

- Try not to make it something you're going to work on or a new years resolution. (ie. Patience - like the word patience came to me and it's something I need to work on within myself.)

- If it's your first time, write it down. You might forget and of course, that's okay, but if you wrote it down you can remind yourself of it every so often.


Throughout the Year

- When it pops up throughout the year - take note and journal, take a photo, give the setting where it came forth or whatever was happening a few moments of reflection.

- Spend some time at the end of the year just reflecting on the word, how you noticed it, when you noticed it, what it came to mean to you through the year and how you understand it now.



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