How seriously will you follow Christ in 2014? The year 2013 is almost at an end and most of us are thinking about what we want to focus on for the coming year. Here are some suggestions on how to enrich your life as you prepare for the year ahead.
- Have a clear sense of purpose for the coming year. Having a clear sense of what God has called us to do makes it easier to set boundaries and say no to the many good things we are asked to do that do not reflect that purpose.
- Set some goals. The words that come to my mind are inward, upward and outward. A rich and balanced life requires equilibrium in all three and it is important to set goals that will enrich your inner life, your relationship to God and your relationship to those around you.
- Develop regular spiritual practices – spiritual disciplines for your inner life, prayer times for your upward relationship to God, hospitality and times of service out into the community.
- Practice Sabbath. This is probably the most enriching habit that we can develop not just for our spiritual lives but for our bodies and our minds as well.
- Develop habits of gratitude. This has become part of my Sabbath discipline. When I started asking myself each week “What am I grateful for?” it revolutionized my attitude towards myself and toward the world around me.
- Learn to look and listen for the presence of God. Using contemplative practices like lectio divina and the prayer of examen have opened my eyes and my ears to the presence of God in all of creation, in every encounter, and in each moment of the day.
- Practice compassion. Psychologists tell us that one of the best ways to help people who are depressed is to get them out helping others. All of us need the discipline of reaching out to others in love and compassion yet often find that in the busyness of their lives reaching out to others is often marginalized.
- Become a servant. “Consider the needs of others as more important than your own” Paul reminds us, but our culture tells us “its all about me”. Hedonism and narcissism are well practiced arts that never satisfy. There is no greater joy I know than doing something for someone else.
- Get out into God’s good creation. Whether it be gardening, hiking, biking, fishing or just sitting by the seashore, time spent outdoors is enriching and therapeutic for all of us.
- Set aside days throughout the year for refocusing and reflection. By now most of you know that I am a strong advocate for retreat days that help keep us on track throughout the year. You might like to plan these now so that they become protected times for you. Some of us like to take 2-3 days every 3 or 4 months. Others find that a day a month is more appropriate. Whatever suits you, make sure that you incorporate this practice into your year’s schedule.
While reflecting on these things this morning this prayer was birthed in my heart.
Christ has come,
His light is sown
in our lives and in our world.
And it grows,
already breaking out
in justice and freedom and compassion.
Let it burst through the darkness
Like the light of a new day,
let it radiate through your life.
Let Christ’s birth within you
bring light and life
to all creation.