Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year's Rituals ...

Happy New Year, Everyone!

I hope you've had a restful and refreshing holiday season.

I'm just back from visiting my surrogate family in Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island) and it's time, now, to put the holidays to bed and to greet 2015. I have a few rituals I've developed over time that help me to consciously cross the threshold into a new year:

1.  Cleaning Up the Old and Welcoming the New
My first ritual is to tidy away all the holiday decorations and pack the boxes into the crawl space, ready for next year. That always leaves the house looking a little drab and mournful so I've learned to do two things, apart from the usual house cleaning and pine needle collecting, to brighten things up a bit. The first is to wash all the windows and all the curtains, which somehow seems to let in a little more light even on our rainy, grey Vancouver days.
The second thing is to take an early morning drive to Granville Market and splurge on a couple of bouquets of brightly-coloured flowers to replace the sparkle of the holiday lights. What a difference these two simple acts make to my perception of the winter days yet to come. 

2.  Reflective Journalling 
Once the house is back in shape, I like to light a big fire and settle down next to fireplace with a cup of tea and my journal to do some reflective writing about the year ahead. This year, I used as a guide,  Parker J Palmer's, 5 Questions for Crossing the Threshold, based on a poem by Anne Hillman:

We Look With Uncertainty
We look with uncertainty
beyond the old choices for
clear-cut answers
to a softer, more permeable aliveness
which is every moment
at the brink of death;
for something new is being born in us
if we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
awaiting that which comes ...
daring to be human creatures,
vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.

  • How can I let go of my need for fixed answers in favour of aliveness?
  • What is my next challenge in daring to be human?
  • How can I open myself to the beauty of nature and human nature?
  • Who or what do I need to learn to love next? And next? And next?
  • What is the new creation that wants to be born in and through me? 

3.  Choosing a Word (or letting a word choose you) to Guide Your New Year
This last ritual is one I've been using for the past five years. I first learned about it from my friend, Elaine, who read about it in an Abbey of the Arts newsletter. I find it a wonderful way to focus my attention on an area of discovery and growth for the whole of the new year. I've written about the process of "receiving your word" here.

What about you? How do you mark the transition into a new year?
Wishing each of you a New Year filled with hope, promise and possibility,


(Photo by Janet Ritchey)


1 comment:

Ted A said...

Thanks for this blogpost, Jan. The questions you pose are very thought-provoking. Our family has few 'rituals' that mark the New Year. We have dispensed with 'New Year's Resolutions'. They simply become depressing and a source of guilt since we rarely manage to keep them. But, I do like the sound of "out with the old, in with the new". To that end, we have started going through our home to find stuff to give away. This brings a good feeling in 2 ways: someone may benefit from getting our unused things, and we have now more room in our crowded little home! All the best in 2015.