My Portal to the New Year

by Christine Sine
Stone archway looking over body of water

by Elaine Breckenridge

It is a common turn of phrase to speak of walking across the threshold into a new year. However, this year I will be marking it seated with my right foot elevated, having had foot surgery on December 27.
Recovering is giving me plenty of time to rest and discern this year’s sacred word. Rather than making traditional New Year’s resolutions; for the past few years I have instead asked God for a word to live by throughout the coming year. Following an ancient desert monastic tradition which I learned from Christine Valters Paintner of the Abbey of the Arts, I have been listening to discover my sacred word for 2023.
Making the decision to have the surgery (removal of a bunion on the big toe with an implant to replace the damaged joint) was a difficult one. It was suggested that I do this as early as 2019 but I just kept walking until I was limping and could bear it no more. I had heard and read horror stories of people having failed foot surgery so I was slow to accept that this would be my only solution to living a normal life.
As my activity level slowed down and I took a few falls (my big toe stopped doing its job of providing stability and balance) I had to find the courage to say yes to the operation and trust the process.
Yes, TRUST. The word TRUST surfaced in a myriad of ways during the month of December. It arose out of my prayer, jumped off the pages in various books and poems I read and appeared more than once on tea bag affirmations.
I remembered what Albert Einstein said, “I think the most important question facing humanity is, Is the universe a friendly place? This is the first and most basic question that all people must answer for themselves.” Do I find the universe to be a friendly place? Viewing photographs taken from the James Webb Telescope are certainly beautiful and inspiring. Yet the universe includes not only stardust but humanity and more narrowly, individual human beings and ultimately my own shadow and ego.
How can I believe that the universe is a friendly place and that creation was and continues to be an act of God’s goodness in the presence of climate adversities, world-wide violence, the suffering and the injustices in the world that are most often a result of the actions of human beings? TRUST.
How could I believe the advice of medical personnel, the skill of my surgeon, that friends and family would care for me in the aftermath? TRUST.
How can I believe in the ability of my body to heal and my discernment process going forward once I have more mobility? TRUST.
Why am I often held captive by limiting beliefs? My lack of TRUST.
What does it mean to trust? It is not a spiritual practice or a psychological process in and of itself. Trust involves a relationship. Julian of Norwich is famous for her saying, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” What is less well known is the rest of her reflection- “for there is a force of love moving through the universe that holds us fast and will never let us go.”
I am reminded of a portion of my favorite Psalm 139:
O God, you trace my journeys and my resting-places and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, but you, O God, know it altogether.
You press upon me behind and before and lay your hand upon me.
Where can I go then from your Spirit;  where can I flee from your presence?
Even there your hand will lead me and your right hand hold me fast.
– The Saint Helena Psalter Version
God’s love holds us fast and will never let us go. We may fall, but God is always there to pick us up. We may suffer but God’s love is there to hold us. We will die but God’s love will carry us home.
When I walk into the new year, I will carry the word TRUST in my heart. I will endeavor to trust the universe, other human beings, my own worth and abilities. I will do so, knowing that I am encircled and held fast in God’s love.
On January 1, 2023, I look forward to rising from my couch to stand on the threshold of my front door to welcome the new year. I trust that I will be able to take at least one step across the threshold to mark the transition of the year. With raised arms and opened hands, I will trust and know that I am held fast by the love of God, surrounded by a friendly universe and friends and endowed with the indwelling Spirit. May it be so for you. Amen.

Following The Star Into the New Year


In January we celebrate Epiphany and the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus. Like them, many of us feel we are on a long journey following a star that is sometimes bright and shining, sometimes completely hidden yet still guiding us towards Christ. 2022 taught us important lessons that will shape the coming year. We sense God wants to do something new in our lives and we want to follow in the right direction.

Join Lilly Lewin and Christine Sine online Saturday, January 7th 2023 from 9:30 am PT to 12:30pm PT as they help us reflect on the past year and take time to hope, dream and pray for the year ahead. We will engage in some fun practices like chalking the door and interact with each other in ways that strengthen our faith and draw us closer to God.

Click here to register! We are once again offering several price points to aid those who are students or in economic hardship.

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