The Lord went in front of them in a pillar of cloud by day, to lead them along the way, and in a pillar of fire by night, to give them light, so that they might travel by day and by night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. (Exodus 13:21-22 NRSV)
This year – because I like to think of life as a journey – I am having fun with the idea of mapping out my plans rather than making resolutions. The basic difference is only the wording, but mapping feels like the perfect tool for planning and dreaming. Mapping fosters a spirit of progression as I move toward destinations throughout the year, and feels more spacious, doable, and creative. Here are some of the ideas I have:
My first discernment was to choose a word that will serve as a Guidepost for the year. My word will be DEEPEN. I hope to deepen in awareness, wisdom, and love – with God, myself, and others. This guiding word will serve as my main path and will help with decisions and plans throughout the year.
From there, I chose a few Special Destinations. I have already noted a few dates on our calendar to give us something to prepare for and anticipate with joy: a trip with Jim this spring, a family vacation this summer, and a few weekend getaways throughout the year. These are a gift for my spirit when dreary winter days linger.
Along with these destinations, I named a few Must-Sees; some “life dream” highlights I hope to do. One dream on my list is to stand under the stars in a deep night sky, away from artificial light; Jim has already found a Dark Sky Park in West Virginia! Another dream is to hike the 17-mile trail at Oak Openings this next autumn season.
Any worthwhile journey includes growth and improvement, so I added Stretches to my journey. I hope to improve as a writer by reading and studying more of my craft, by submitting my works to potential publishers, and to not let self-doubt keep me from trying new forms and venues. My physical stretch will be to walk longer distances each day, and to hike with Jim on the weekends when possible.
Every long journey needs a few Rest Stops along the way. These help us to persevere, because we know we can pause a little further down the road. This month, I have a mini-retreat scheduled for a weekend when Jim will be away. I also plan to pause for tea and a good book after I return home from work when time allows.
I decided to keep any specific planning on a monthly basis, to allow for Detours. At the beginning of each month, I will assess where I am on my journey, then regroup or reroute as needed. I will revisit my guidepost to discern where I am lagging or keeping pace. My actual Itinerary will be created one week at a time, scheduling days and times for the needs and goals of that week.
One of my favorite ideas is to be more mindful of inviting Companions to come along. I am trying to prioritize time with family and friends, arranging dates on the calendar as early as possible (as long as safety precautions are in place). I also want the companionship of Christ, so I will prioritize time for meditation and reflection, too.
My journey is enriched when I allow for the natural rhythm of Seasons. This winter, I will savor the dark and quiet evenings with warm foods, hot beverages, glowing candles, good books, and special movies. I consider January as my month to decide what I need for this year’s journey – so I will go through Christmas decorations, clothes, books, and craft supplies, and toss or donate the ones I no longer need.
Finally, and most importantly, I want God to be my pillar of cloud by day, my pillar of fire by night for this journey. I want to go wherever God leads me, even if I am rerouted completely. Where does God want me to be at the end of the year? When I look back on the year, what will I be most glad and grateful to have done? Will it be important to follow my map, or to simply follow God? If I am led by the Spirit, my prayer is that they will be one and the same…
May you find many blessings as you journey through 2022!