As I pondered on my new inspiration for this coming year, I went back to those sources that I referenced last year. The ladies at One Little Word ( see olw) have shut down their inspiring blog and moved on to other ventures, but there are still lots of good ideas and references to be found in the data, pictures, and stories that they shared over the course of time. I went back to Ali Edwards blog as well – you may recall that she said, "A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow." She has chosen a word for 2010 that sounds like lots of fun – STORY. Now that would get you writing and sharing all year long, wouldn’t it?
I went back to the very inspiring "one little word" web site maintained by Pastor David J. Risendal , of Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in Greenwood Village, Colorado. Pastor Dave shares his musings and his sermons on this site, which – as you may recall - takes its inspiration and name from the third stanza of Martin Luther’s most well-known hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
Though hoards of devils fill the land
All threat’ning to devour us,
We tremble not, unmoved we stand;
They cannot overpower us.
Let this world’s tyrant rage;
In battle we’ll engage!
His might is doomed to fail;
God’s judgment must prevail!
One little word subdues him.
Lutheran Book of Worship. (C)1978 Augsburg Fortress Publishing House (Minneapolis) and Board of Publication, LCA (Philadelphia),hymn #229
In a recent exchange of letters Pastor Dave shared the following thoughts about the One Little Word that Martin Luther may be referring to in his hymn –
“Luther wrote extensively about the word of God, and had a great confidence in its power. My personal favorite refers to his close friends Philip Melanchthon and Nicholas Von Amsdorf:
“All that I have done is to farther, preach and teach God’s Word; otherwise I have done nothing. So it happened that while I slept or while I drank a glass of Wittenberg beer with my friend Philip [Melanchthon] and with Amsdorf, the papacy was weakened as it never was before by the action of any prince or emperor. I have done nothing; the Word has done and accomplished everything.… I let the Word do its work!” (from a sermon on March 10, 1522, in “Luther’s works, vol. 44: The Christian in Society”)We Lutherans continue to put great stock in the power of God’s word. We think of it in three ways: the living word (Christ), the written word (Scriptures), and the spoken word (preaching and teaching). I would suspect that Luther had all three of these in mind when he wrote “Mighty Fortress.””
I think that the word “serene” did some work on me in 2009, and so, as we start this new year, I have settled on another little word that I hope will have an impact on my approach, my thoughts, my life, and my art.
And so for 2009 my one little word is Clarity.
Clarity is a deceptively simple word. The definition in Webster’s New World Dictionary is only one brief line – “the quality or condition of being clear, clearness.” I like simple, focused, easy, eye on the prize kind of words. They are straightforward to grasp, undemanding to think about. I like clarity.
However, to be certain of the subtleties of meaning, I turned to the definition of clear. How often is it, I wonder, that the root of something simple, easy, and direct is something complex. The word clear is like that. Webster’s has a lot to say about clear. More than half a column in the dictionary is dedicated to describing the meaning(s) of clear. Perhaps that is why it is so challenging to find clarity! I will be able to work on refining my understanding of this root of clarity for some time.
In the mean time, as I meditate on clarity itself, I find my mind moving to thoughts of priorities, simplicity, what really matters in this life. My poor little sick kitty gives me clarity every day as she demands more time and attention – relationships and time are priorities. My little puppy gives me clarity every day at dinner time – food is a priority! My body demands that I make health a priority. My job demands that I make quick decisions and good judgment a priority. And all of these things – are they competing ideas? What is the clear, shining, focused, exact, simple, transparent POINT?
Maybe it is just to move through each moment with clear vision. Maybe it is to live in the reality of every instance. Maybe it is something more – or less – and maybe it is different for each of us.
As I ponder on clarity in 2010 and consider how clarity can direct my footsteps, in daily life, at work and home, in my thoughts and in my art, I will be sure to share with you here.