Spiritual Direction: The Week at the End of the Year

Spiritual Direction: The Week at the End of the Year December 29, 2021

Spiritual Direction: The Week at the End of the Year

The Week at the End of the Year

This is it. The final week of another year shaped by pandemic and climate change, the week at the end of this year.

Some of us are still stretching to try to reach goals we set for ourselves this year. We may be fooling ourselves or we may have just enough left in us to complete a few more tasks.

In a few days we will reach the end of the year. Some of us are celebrating because we have survived while others gather strength for next year. We may take a well deserved break to rest or assess what we could do differently. Some of us will party on New Year’s Eve while others will be up early the next morning for the parade.

This may be an exhausting week as we struggle to get where we want to be. It could be the week when everything changes for us or just the most recent frustrating week.

Many of us see the end of the year as a goal line. It is as if we are running a race and trying to cross the finish line. The end of the year is measurable. We review everyone’s performance based on the same deadline.

As I look more deeply, listening to sacred stillness, there is more. Not all of us are following the same path or using the same calendar. Each of us is running our own race.

For some of us the end of the year is a new beginning.

When the End of the Year is a Beginning

We like to believe we can control what we measure. It can be comforting to assume measuring time well allows us to use it more efficiently.

Measuring time with all our various tools does not necessarily help us relate to it wisely. Our watches and calendars, our hours and days, weeks and months can get in the way.

We invest importance in our measurements of time and assume they have meaning.

There is nothing magic about the end of a year, or a month, each week or each day.

I tend to be a fairly organized, focused person. When I was growing up I would make serious New Year’s resolutions and work to keep them. While I recognize the value of setting goals and working toward them, I no longer approach the end of the year with a structured list.

We may believe we have valid, healthy reasons for postponing our new beginnings. There are ways we can prepare before we start. We might want to make sure everything is lined up to help us succeed.

There is no reason not to begin today. December may be an even better month to start than January.

We realize, as we begin, there is no difference between the end and the beginning. Each ending is a beginning. The end of the year, each year, is a beginning of the next.

As we take time to listen to sacred stillness we realize we have already begun. Stopping to listen is how we begin.

This week at the end of year is an excellent opportunity to take time to listen and prepare.

The End of Each Year, Each Month, Each Moment, Each Day

We do not need to use this week at the end of the year to construct a comprehensive list of our goals for the year ahead. I believe it is more helpful for us to spend this week resting and listening.

Our preparation for next year is not about completing the most detailed list of our goals. This week, after this year in particular, is a great time for us to rest and reflect.

We are not trying to put together a list of goals which will impress other people. This week is not about developing a set of goals we can publish as an example for others. It will be much more helpful for us to spend this week in contemplation. What have we learned? How have we grown? Where can we become stronger, better people during the coming year?

Our first step in beginning a new year is remembering and understanding where we have been and who we are becoming. Each of us has an opportunity this week to begin our new year.

For many of us, this week at the end of the year is about getting some rest. We are not pushing or pulling ourselves to some new height of effort. Many of us need time this week to recover, napping and taking walks.

The most effective way we can shape the new year this week is by getting the rest we need.

Beginning at the End of the Year

The end of each year on the calendar is arbitrary. How we measure time does not determine whether we are at the beginning or at the end.

Even when we believe we are at the end it does not mean we are finished.

There is no rule we must complete things this week or begin them next week. The week at the end of the year may be exactly the right time for us to begin something new.

We each have our reasons to avoid or delay starting something new. It may be reluctance or fear or fatigue. Now is the perfect time to look those reasons in the eye, deal with them, and get started.

We open our eyes and become aware there is no beginning and no end.

Some of us need to recognize there are new things for us to begin this week. Others of us realize we can acknowledge we have come to the end of habits or practices we nurtured for a long time.

We need to invest time listening at the end of this year.

What beginning does the end of the year bring to us this week?

How can what we complete this week at the end of the year be a new beginning for us today?

[Image by brownpau]

Greg Richardson is a spiritual director in Southern California. He is a recovering assistant district attorney and associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.

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