A Year Behind…A Year Ahead
We discover something good in being still (Psalm 46:10)—to sit, breathe, to listen to the sound of a stream, or perhaps to read, pray, and reflect while enjoying a hot cup of good coffee or tea (stress good). Unfortunately, these times are more rare than I would like. Today, however, I arrived early at the airport to journey to the Denver Fly Fishing Show and found the gift of joy and a smile as I read some pages from a book given to me on Christmas from my son that led me to stop and reflect on the year past and look upstream to the year ahead. Hear these words from Fly-Fishing—The Sacred Art: Casting a Fly as a Spiritual Practice by Rabbi Eric and Reverend Mike:
“For me, preparing for a day on the river has an Advent feel to it. The annual Christian liturgical calendar begins with Advent, a time of preparation. It is a time to hope—for new experiences on the waters we know and love. It is a time to dream—for new and wilder fish, new challenges, new waters to explore, new friends to fish with. It is a time to long for life on the rivers that restores our souls and bring us back into harmony. In finding a small piece of the universe on the smallest of trout streams, we may learn our role in life and in the lives of those we love.”
This new year is only days old and perhaps you are like me—a new year brings reflection, anticipation and preparations to new commitments, priorities, or habits. For me, Altar Fly Fishing takes a big step forward this year in growing its impact in the lives of men, women, leaders, and families as well as introducing its ministry to the wider fly-fishing world by exhibiting at several national fly fishing shows. I cannot contain my smile! I think of all the people who will join us this year on Altar trips/retreats and the opportunities for lasting impact as we devote time away to experience meaningful moments that will lead to and shape daily commitments and habits. I LOVE to see people grow and watch (like a rising trout) their ripples of impact that touch their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and beyond.
So, I smile and work to grow Altar’s ministry to this end. But as I smile with all the good anticipation, I realize that I need to take the time to grow my own soul as well. So often, as a pastor and retreat leader, I invest in others but neglect my own soul. I have a hunch that you may feel to need or desire to pay attention to YOUR heart and soul as well. You are not alone…we all seem to give to others in a hurried life with little time for stillness and personal attention.
In these first weeks of this new year I will do the very reflections offered below as a gift to myself…as a gift to my soul. Will you do the same? I wonder what we both will write and reflect upon at the end 2020. May we both find ourselves deepening our relationships with God, ourselves, and those in our lives in this new year—whether in a stream, in our homes or wherever our journeys take us.
Blessings and journey well in your anticipations, hopes and commitments.
First: Take a moment to digest the last year.
- Write down the highs and lows.
- What events or habits have shaped your life?
- Who are the people that have been important or influential?
- For what experiences are you grateful?
- What challenges intercepted your path and how have you responded?
- What else comes to mind?
Second: Take a moment to dream into the new year.
- What are you excited about?
- What are you preparing for?
- Where are you looking for hope?
- To what habits will you commit yourself to help you grow healthier and/or more whole?
- What else comes to mind?
Third: Take time to pray AND listen to God.
- What you have learned this past year?
- Where do you sense God leading you in this new year (be specific)?
- Read and reflect on these verses: Psalm 46:1-4, 10; Proverbs 3:5-6; Colossians 3:1-17 (emphasis on 3:17).