Have you heard of the Fresh Start Effect? It’s the idea that smaller markers of time can serve as openings to ask new questions, initiate new practices, or work toward new goals. Many people set aims like these when they make New Year’s Resolutions, but these can often be even more life-giving on smaller scales – days, weeks, and months.
Today is a new month.
Would you like to sit with a new question, try a practice for 31 days, or perhaps name August as the template for completing a step toward a larger goal? We have such an opening today.
This month, I am going to ask myself these three questions quite often:
1) What do I need to release to be grounded in this moment?
In the midst of national chaos, we can easily lose awareness of our connection to what’s larger. If I set purposeful intention to recognize connections to the bigger picture — God, often called the Ground of Being. . . Community. . . Calling. . . Purpose. . . Vision. . . I feel less limited by the chaos and more equipped to respond to it.
We may need moments of silence to come into grounding, a practice to recognize these larger connections. We certainly need moments where we can step away from our cerebral rumination of anxieties. When we step away, we initiate different ways of thinking which allow us to gain intuition. Intuition is a gift that strengthens us and our larger communities.
2) What do I need to release to enjoy this moment?
I also want to be present to the moment. The same types of chaos can pull us away from the enjoyment of everyday activities and the presence of people right in front of us. These moments are gifts, and they can connect us to the sense of what’s larger too.
The release question is also a good one. . . If we ask this, we may discover that we can’t feel enjoyment right now, and that’s okay. There are moments when we naturally feel sadness, anger, confusion, and more. When we release these, we choose to feel our emotions and express them. We may invite moments and people to share in them as well. And this opens up space to feel joy again.
3) What do I need to release in order to be alive toward others in this moment?
Aware of the larger connections, how do I then act from this grounding? I want to be more alive toward others. The life we receive can inform the life we give.
In a time of chaos, we want to choose action over inaction. But what kind of action? To quote Richard Rohr, I find that I am best empowered to act when my actions are aligned with contemplation — that is, when I am engaging intentional processes to tap into connections with the larger picture. I need to release all the things that act as barriers to this.
After all, I best act alongside my neighbors when I am aware of my deeper connection to my neighbors — when I prioritize the recognition of who they are along with the intrinsic value and worth they have as people.
These are my questions for the month. Do you have guiding questions?
Here is a hymn text I love quite a bit. The words are written by Shirley Erena Murray, and here’s a recording. Perhaps these words are a good guide.
Come and Find the Quiet Center
Come and find the quiet center
in the crowded life we lead,
find the room for hope to enter,
find the frame where we are freed:
Clear the chaos and the clutter,
clear our eyes that we can see
all the things that really matter,
be at peace, and simply be.
Silence is a friend who claims us,
cools the heat and slows the pace,
God it is who speaks and names us,
knows our being, touches base,
making space within our thinking,
lifting shades to show the sun,
raising courage when we’re shrinking,
finding scope for faith begun.
In the Spirit let us travel,
open to each other’s pain,
let our loves and fears unravel,
celebrate the space we gain:
There’s a place for deepest dreaming,
there’s a time for heart to care,
in the Spirit’s lively scheming
there is always room to spare.