Risk Taking and Thomas Merton

photoAt the start of each New Year I spend some time reflecting, pondering and walking with the question: “What is my word for this year?” Sometimes, a word just pops into my head after settling down and slowing my breathing and just waiting and listening. This year, not so. I’ve journaled, lit my candles, slowed down my breathing and attempted to be quiet and …..nothing. Which, I then started to wonder and ponder, what if my word for the year is, nothing? That just didn’t feel quite right to me, and I’m still wrestling with it. So, yesterday afternoon, on a cold and chilly day here in Seattle, I ventured out with Libby, my faithful walking companion and decided to walk with the word, nothing. I wanted to see where that might lead, or not. I took some landscape photos as I walked and they actually go with the word, nothing. The water in the lake is grey and calm. There’s actually  not much of a breeze or wind. There’s some frost covering the decks that span out onto the lake, and it appears as though nothing is happening or taking place.photo2

Then I began to ponder, what if this word, nothing, has much more to it? Under the surface of the lake I know, scientifically, that life is taking place. I know that even though it is winter and that both plant and animal life might be hibernating, that there is movement (although it may not be seen) taking place. As I pondered this, the word ‘risk’ came to mind. What if I was to ‘risk’ accepting ‘nothing’ and let those two words play out together in my life this year?  This is where my mind takes me on these solo walks 🙂 What if I was to risk change, to risk continuing to pursue things/hobbies/dreams that give me life? Even if it may appear to those around me that it’s ‘nothing’? I’m not sure. What I do know is that there seems to be something interesting for me personally brewing beneath the surface of ‘nothing’ and ‘risk’. As to how that may or may not unfold, I’m not sure – there’s a tension. That’s one of the reasons why I write. It helps me journey with the tension and articulate what’s going on in my head. I chose to take a risk yesterday and sent off a link to my first very rough draft of a novel. Somehow the subject title in the header auto-corrected rough to fought – hm, without me noticing. Ah well. Off went my first fought draft to a few good friends to see what they might think of my story. And so I take encouragement from the following words by Thomas Merton:

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilites and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”


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