Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. (Psalm 46:10-11, NRSV)
The beginning of a new year serves as a good reminder that much of life is cyclical. Every day we move from dark to light and back to dark. In the middle of winter, we look forward to the new life that will come in the spring (even in Florida there is new life in spring!). The Christian life is sometimes described as a process of repeatedly journeying inward to experience God’s presence and journeying outward to live for God in the world. In 1987 well-known Franciscan theologian Richard Rohr founded the Center for Action and Contemplation. According to the website, “he saw a deep need for the integration of both action and contemplation. The two are inseparable. In fact, the most important word in ‘action and contemplation’ is ‘and.’”
The new year is also associated with making resolutions about what we will do moving forward. Given the chance to start over, what might we want to do differently in the weeks and months ahead? This year the question I find myself asking is, where am I in the cycle? What season is this in my life?
I realize that my default state is doing (action). I have a full schedule of tasks for the church and for the community groups that I serve. I make lists. When I have a moment that is not scheduled, I go to my to-do list to figure out what I need to do next. What I need to practice is not doing, but being. I see this as an opportunity for me to grow. Action and contemplation are out of balance; I need more being and reflecting to inform and empower my doing. The irony is that I cannot reach this goal by writing a list of resolutions “to do.” I have to be still and patient and open to new ways of simply being. I have to trust that by slowing down and opening my heart “to be” in new ways I will experience God’s love in new ways. I hear the Psalmist speaking, “Be still, and know that I am God.”
Where are you in the cycle of life? What do you need to do in order to live life more fully in this new year? How do you want to grow in faith and love? These are questions worth asking. I celebrate the diversity of answers to be found among us.
God of all seasons, speak your word to us in this season. Help us to hear what you want to say to us, what each of us needs to do to be a more faithful disciple of Jesus the Christ, whose birth we have celebrated and whose way we want to follow. Amen.