Endings and Beginnings
What personal rituals do you have for the ending and the beginning of a new year? Do you throw things out which you are no longer using, or begin new projects or new resolutions with the start of a new year? Is this time of year just like every other time of year for you?
One of the practices that I have retained from my novitiate experience is taking time for a reflection day, looking back over the past year and looking ahead to hopes and dreams I have. I find it helpful to ponder where I’ve been, where I gave my energy during the past year, and where I hope to grow, especially in regard to my relationships with others.
Here are some exercises I use and questions I ask myself –
- What three things would you do today if you found out that you will die tomorrow?
- Write a three sentence obituary about yourself.
- Create a bucket list of 5 items which you hope to complete within the next year, 3 years, and 5 years of your life. What steps do you want to take to bring these hopes to life?
I’ve also borrowed a few reflection questions from Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Mary Ann Nelson, OP. These can be helpful as you ponder. I encourage you to give yourself permission to spend some reflection time, and then ask a friend or two to share responses with you.
…Looking Back at the Past Year…
- What seasons and times have surprised and delighted you?
- What seasons and times have transformed you? In what ways have you changed? How do you feel about that?
- Do you have any regrets, hurts and pain you are carrying from the year? How can you leave it behind?
- What from the year do you want to take with you into the future personally? Within your family or community?
- If you think of this year as a chapter in the book of your life, what title would you give it?
- What, if any, Scripture passages have touched you this year?
…Looking Forward at the New Year…
Ours is a God of new beginnings and wonderful surprises. We are gifted with a new year.
- What do you look forward to in the new year?
- Do you have any anxieties about the coming year? If so, name them.
- What questions are you hoping to answer for yourself?
- Every year, every day holds surprises. How do you want to meet this new year and all that each day holds personally and within your family or community?
- What, if any, Scripture passages give you hope for the year ahead?
From your reflection, what stands out for you that you’d like to share?