A Blessing for the New Year
by Kayleen Asbo
As the hours of darkness begin to slowly wane from the winter sky,
So too may the fearful places of your heart unclench their grasp on your life.
As the presence of light begins to grow with greater sureness with each passing day,
May your own courage blossom to open more brightly to truth and love.
Let this be the year that you turn off the television and silence the talk radio chatter
in order to pick up the writing pen, the paintbrush,
and watch the candle slowly burn.
May this be the year that you delight
in seeing how much joy you can extravagantly spread.
May you discover just how much beauty you can recklessly shower
upon this thirsty world.
May this be the year that you tune both the dusty piano in the corner
and the inner listening of your care-worn heart
So that both can play in harmony with the chorus of creation.
May you break the invisible yardstick of impossible expectations
and learn that just as you are,
you are enough.
May this be the year that you cease trying to march to an imagined ideal
and instead, wrap your arms around the messy wonder your life really is,
hold it close
and do the tango.
Let this be the year you befriend your soul in its radical particularity,
not forsaking it yet again for the bland demands and cravings of the masses.
Instead, may you elope with the wildness of your own true calling,
marry your soul to its deepest longings
and invite the hungry world to the wedding feast.
I wrote the poem above two years ago, but still find it something I want to live into. As both piano and yoga teach me daily, it is all about practice. Letting go of fear and judgment (particularly self -judgment!) are lifelong practices, ones to be cultivated each and every day. One of my favorite authors, Richard Rohr, has characterized the neurological tendencies of the mind as negative velcro (our tendency to hold on to the bad) and postive teflon (the tendency to let the good slip away). While this may protect us in a forest of ravenous beasts, it is a proclivity that bodes very ill for our psychological well-being, eventually yielding a state of cynicism unless consciously checked. It is the deliberate practice of gratitude and wonder that makes the difference between becoming embittered as we age or ripening into grace and joy. For myself, I'd like to become a wise and juicy and ecstatic crone and so I am deliberately cultivating practices that will carve those positive neural pathways into my brain. For the past year, I have kept a gratitude journal, penning just 2 or 3 sentences each day about where my heart felt touched with love, compassion, beauty or awe. This week, I've begun to review the year, and I find myself surprised with delight at the beautiful moments which had faded from view. Similiarly, scrolling through my 2016 images on Facebook has also given me a renewed sense of wonder as I recollect and remember all the lovely places I have been and the magnificent people who have graced my path. As I see the faces from my travels and lectures in France, Italy, Houston, Lousiana, Southern California and Ireland , I send a prayer of thanksgiving out for the sweet moment of connection I shared with people I may never meet again. It makes me feel a deep sense of belonging to a larger story. Who knew that even Facebook can be a spiritual practice?
Tomorrow, I wil be celebrating the New Year in Petaluma with a Soul Collage workshop, followed by a candlelit labyrinth walk with live music. Both are exercises in gratitude and mindfulness. Join me if you are able. If you can't, I encourage you to consider engaging in your own gratitude walk someplace beautiful. It is easy--with every step, think of a moment of surprising grace. Think of a loved one with each step. Call to mind something that has lit up your heart this year. You may find yourself surprised, as often I am, with how many forgotten moments of beauty return with this practice.
As we head into a New Year, remember: there is always a choice. For many of us, it has been a difficult and painful year. And yet, the sun still rises and sets each and every day with an extravagant and generous display of beauty and hope. As long as it does, I believe that it is our job to become the light.