Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year Ritual

I was itchy the last few days of 2010. Perhaps it was the weather. What sounded like rain was actually snow dripping from the roof ,and even though the temperatures were mild, the air was damp, and the piles of snow were dirty and crusty. Used. This was no March wind, however, no wind of change announcing a just around the corner spring, and that was fine with me, for I love winter, but WINTER--not whatever this was. And so I scratched and paced and did a little something here and a little something there. I contemplated putting away the Christmas decorations, but didn't really want to move into that worse before it gets better stage just yet. I read. I wrote thank you notes. I ironed. I walked to get the mail. I waited. I was waiting for the new year, 2011.
It's not that 2010 is a year I want to forget and leave behind--far from it. Instead, I simply felt "in-between" with one foot in 2010, symbolized by the house's Christmas wardrobe and one hand extended towards 2011, new calendars within reach and resolutions and intentions forming on my lips. How often we talk about the need to open a new door, to step across a threshold, and in fact, one of my current devotion books, The Open Door, A Journey to the True Self by Joyce Rupp, is devoted to that topic, but she doesn't ignore the need to close some doors as a way to enhance our transformational process. In order to open the door to 2011, I needed to pull 2010's door shut behind me. It was time for a ritual.
I have a bulletin board in my office and over the year I tack up cards, and pictures, and sayings and any this and that with appeal to my creative or reflective side. By the end of the year the board is layered and only hints of color or shape indicate what was placed there in January and February. The accumulation, the haphazard composition, begged to be transformed into collage.
Angeles Arrien says ritual is "recognizing a life change, and doing something to honor and support the change," and Barbara Biziou says ritual means taking the time to "stop and bless what we have." Stripping the bulletin board of all the visual reminders of the year gone by and then creating something new and tangible and permanent was my way to honor the past year and to reflect on themes and avenues of discovery along the way.

I lit a candle and got out the scissors and glue sticks and spread everything from the bulletin board on my harvest table desk. I looked at each item. The reason some things found a place on the memory board was obvious -- pictures of friends and family, notes from my granddaughter, birthday greetings--but sometimes not. Was the picture of tulips included just because it was pretty and if so, isn't pretty enough? I remembered and enjoyed and paused to give thanks, and as I cut and then pasted into a large looseleaf sketchbook, I engaged with the gifts and pleasures of 2010.

Eventually, I filled 4 pages and now have a picture of the past year. Not a complete one nor an objective one and not one that will be recognizable to anyone else, but pages that remind me that each year adds to who I am. Each year moves me to the next one, like turning to the next page, or starting with a clean, bulletin board.

More and more life is becoming one of endings, of saying goodbye, of surrendering, of letting go, and beginnings are a bit harder to come by. Creating a year-end collage is a way to transition--to note the pleasures, along with the pains and to remind myself that the emptiness, the receptivity of the clean bulletin board with its room for growth and discovery and yet more memories is just as sacred as what has been.

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