It’s clear and a little cold as 2011 begins in Beijing. It’s a little bit hard to get my head around as friends head to the beach and to outdoor gigs and we don down jackets and ear muffs to totter across the road to resupply.
My usual new year’s practice is to choose a quality or a word to use as a touchstone throughout the coming year. Sometimes it is several words: qualities or practices that I want to be part of my daily and weekly rhythms. I can check in to see how I’m doing, notice whether I’m making room for those things to flourish as the year goes by.
Last year I chose “movement”. Coming off a painful injury I was struggling to find ways to exercise that felt sustainable. I was also wondering about what currents or movements in the church and in the world I might want to invest my energy in.
Of course the joke was kind of on me. Just a few weeks after settling on that word I sent our CVs and an expression of interest to a pastor-search committee in Beijing. Movement would certainly characterise 2010 – I moved house, job and country!
As 2011 has approached I’ve been wondering about this year’s word. Christine Valters Painter at Abbey of the Arts makes some suggestions about how to let a word choose you. Sometimes it feels easier to make goal-oriented resolutions. 15 minutes of Mandarin vocabulary revision after lunch every day. Send a quarterly email to the people who are praying for us as we engage in our lives here. While those are good and important things, I find myself returning to the invitation to choose a word, or to let a word choose me.
Open-hearted. It’s the word that keeps coming. Even though I’m not exactly sure why or what it invites. That’s the 2011 word for now. I’ll let you know how it goes.