Tuesday, January 4

Posted by Laurel Garver on Tuesday, January 04, 2011 25 comments
In a few days it will be Epiphany, celebrating the "wise men from the East" coming to honor the Christ child. The Magi had been watching for something good and were willing to make great effort to get close to it. This story resonates a lot with me as we enter 2011.

Yesterday Kristen at Write in the Way had asked "why is it so hard to hope?" Hope comes from being like the Magi--keeping an eye on the far horizon, watching for something good. We lose hope when unhappy things in the immediate environment consume our vision and we stop regularly scanning the horizon. Big signs could come and go, and we'd miss them. The first step in getting the blessing of an epiphany is to be watchful.

The second is to move toward the good. And this is no easy feat. Pondering why that is brought to mind Sherrida Ketch's post about the "unresolution" approach called One Word that's highlighted on THIS site. Here's a quick description:

Every New Year we hope this will finally be the year that things will change. We make promises about the new person we're going to become, pledging to get a grip on our finances, get in shape, become a better parent, spouse, even a nicer human being! But there’s one problem: our resolutions seldom work. The busy pace of life gets the better of us, and suddenly, the year is over with little to no personal growth having occurred in our lives.

“My One Word” is an experiment designed to move you beyond the past and look ahead. The challenge is simple: lose the long list of changes you want to make this year and instead pick ONE WORD. This process provides clarity by taking all of your big plans for life change and narrowing them down into a single thing. One word focuses on your character and creates a vision for your future. So, we invite you to join us and pick one word in 2011.

This approach isn't simplistic, it's holistic. I can't help feel the implications are huge--both wide and deep. Drawing together all these ideas--epiphany, hope, searching the horizon, following the good--I discovered my one word. What's keeping me "stuck in Persia" and not following the star, metaphorically speaking, is fear.

So my one word for 2011 is courage. I need to become a person who stretches even when it's scary, to leave safety and go, even though my knees are knocking.

What about you? What makes is hard for you to hope? What's keeping you from following your Epiphany star?


  1. I hope you don't mind if I simply echo your word and say "courage." Fear has paralyzed me most of my life, causing me to take the safe route that doesn't always lead to contentment and happiness because the riskier road just seems too uncertain. Maybe you and I can be courage buddies! :)

  2. Fear is a definite roadblock to hope. I also think a lack of faith (or even just a small crack in your faith) creates a barrier. DOUBT would be my one word, though.

  3. I love that idea! My resolutions rarely last, but maybe I can do this. I need to think about it before deciding on my word though.

  4. I agree with the above comment that fear is an obstacle, as is hopelessness. Sometimes I get so dejected by "no's" or "maybes" that I hold my own self back from trying. I love your word being courage! Such an inspiring post and I'm sure your year will be accompanied with a lot of courage :)

  5. perseverance :) gotta write book 2 now ;p

    The Arrival, on Amazon now!

  6. Beautiful post! Thanks so much! I was on the resolution merry-go-round for many years before I did the inexplicable and moved away from my childhood home for a great job and started a life far from everyone I love. And now, everything is different, some good some bad, but I'm not stuck anymore and I follow my goals. I don't have one word in mind, but two keep me company and always watching the horizon: What's Next?

  7. I'm w/ Nicole. I think my one word would need to be perseverance. The journey's getting hard, can't quit now!

  8. One word: dedication. To the craft, to my work, to my family. Dedication.

    (I'd have liked the word to be "sleep," but I can't be dedicated and well-rested. At least not on 24 hours a day....)


  9. Courage, what a wonderful word! I will try to be more couragous in my own writing endevours this year.

  10. Laurel,

    I am very impressed with this post. Very few people understand the epiphany as you do.

    I celebrate it every year by leaving my tree up and lighting the way to a new year.

    You are not alone in your fear. It is crippling to almost all human beings. Your word is perfect. It says it all.

    SImon's word is also strong. Hey, they you go another word STRENGTH. I like it fits me. Strong enough to get through another dull and uneventful day, Strength to persevere toward my goals to become a better person, writer, and friend,

    Your post made me think. Thank you for that.

    Keep up your courage it's what will get you through life.


  11. This is a theme for me this week. My one word is "trust." I have to trust my truth, my voice, my ambitions. I think my word goes hand-in-hand with yours. It's all part of the same theme, isn't it?

    Great post, Laurel, as always!

  12. Wow. What an awesome idea. I love it. I think I get stuck on the hope part. Ha. I'm going to pick...faith. I need more faith in all things to do as they will, to simplify it.

    Good luck on your courage!

  13. E.Elle: I love the idea of being courage buddies! Awesome! Here's to a braver you in 2011!

    Shannon: How about trying to envision for yourself the opposite of the road block? I'd encourage you to embrace DOUBTLESS or BELIEVE or FAITH! {hugs}

    Janet: Exactly--resolutions don't capture our imaginations, do they? Good luck picking your word for 2011!

  14. Saumya: It was rereading The War of Art over the weekend, and what the author says about fear making us sabotage ourselves creatively made the courage idea resonate for me. It's a great book for keeping you motivated in the face of rejection.

    Nicole: great choice for this part of your journey. Keep on keeping on, my friend!

    Julie: Glad this resonated with you. Sounds like you found your courage to do big things and it made you stronger. If you were to translate your two words to one, it might be WATCHFUL or HOPE, just like the magi. :-)

  15. Tamara: Keep your eyes on the horizon and you'll manage to climb the long hill ahead of you. If you need an encouraging picture of perseverance, rewatch the Lord of the Rings movies. Sam and Frodo especially have this virture from beginning to end.

    Simon: Excellent choice--like perseverance with more heart. Wishing you all the blessings that come with pouring yourself wholeheartedly into your endeavors!

    Angela: Wishing you a courageous 2011 as you explore and share your truth through writing.

  16. Michael: Thanks. We enjoy exploring traditions around the church calendar--I think we're having an Epiphany-eve (12th night) feast tonight, as a matter of fact.

    STRENGTH is a wonderful word for 2011! It has lots of implications, as you mention, for having perseverance and dedication when you're tempted to give up.

    Nicole: Very nice, TRUST. Yes, there is an element of courage, and also hope and even surrender. Definitely a strong contrast to the fear that can cripple us creatively.

    Colene: Great choice--FAITH. There's an element of walking away from worry that sounds very empowering. Wishing you a faith-filled 2011.

  17. Oh this is a lovely post, Laurel. I LOVE that you chose 'courage'.

    May 2011 bring you great joy...and courage.


  18. I love the idea of the One Word!

    It's difficult to put into words what makes it hard for me to hope. I suppose it stems back to the fact that everything in my life is a challenge, I gain nothing easily - even the smallest of things (it's actually a bit of a running joke in my family). So, I guess maybe my word should be perseverance - to keep pushing through the challenges.

    Great post, Laurel. I hope 2011 is a wonderful year for you!

  19. What a great choice for your word. So often our fears are unfounded, and really can hold us back. I hope your Courage brings you to many exciting places in your life this year!

  20. Lola: thanks so much. I can guarantee this is one resolution that will challenge me very deeply! Best wishes for a wonderful 2011.

    Jessica H: If you scan the earlier comments, I think you'll find some perseverence buddies. :-) Wishing you stamina and a hopeful heart in 2011.

    Joanne: I'm just now coming to grips with some strange fears enculturated into me growing up in a suspicious small town, where everyone feared being intrusive. As you say, this fear is often more imagined than real.

  21. I think I tend to be pretty hopeful, until I get responses to my queries.

  22. Interesting question/reflection! Mine is patience. At first I was going to say slowness, but I realize that patience is more accurate. Taking my time, not overfilling my day, not lazily rushing to finish a project.

    Wishing you courage this year. :-)

  23. I LOVE your one word. It's a beautiful one.

    I had to think a bit about this, because I am generally a hopeful person. But I do become hopeless sometimes, almost always when I am overwhelmed with too many tasks and too little time. So my one word is ... FOCUS If I focus on one thing at a time, one goal at a time, and be present when I need to be, my life is much simpler. Manageable. And my natural hopeful nature comes out.

    Thanks for a great post!

  24. I'll take some of that courage. Maybe a second helping, thank you very much.

  25. Chris: I'm in query land, too, and continuing to send them takes courage, doesn't it?

    Jade: PATIENCE is an excellent choice! Writing and publishing are slow processes, requiring a steady heart through it all.

    Susan: Wishing you a peaceful, productive year as you develop FOCUS!

    Lydia: Imagine you are in Lothlorien, and Galadriel tells you, "you will find your courage" as you step into the next stage of the journey.