My One Word for 2013: Holy


Over the last year or two, I’ve noticed a number of bloggers writing about choosing a single word to guide them in the new year. I thought this sounded like a powerful practice, and when I looked into it a little more, I felt moved to do the same.

I played with a couple of different ideas, but the one word that seemed to stick was this: Holy.

I feel as though the upcoming year, for me,  is meant to have a focus on holiness.

Now, obviously Christians are always striving to become more holy. For me, the word is referring to something a little more specific. What I’m talking about is making a conscious effort to be aware of the sacred, and to infuse my daily rhythms with reminders of who I am and Who I belong to.

See, some time between my university days and today, I lost my sense of the Holy.

I stopped noticing that my life was sacred — that I was connected to the Holy One in a profound and mysterious way, and that his beauty and majesty could be seen everywhere.

For years, I’ve been living my life and making my daily choices based on principles I know in my head, and not out of love or awe. I’ve lost any sense of mysticism in my daily life.

I’ve made certain life choices — like keeping a more eco-friendly home or donating to certain organizations — because I believe in my mind that they’re good; but not out of a deep sense of love for the Creator of the world, or out of a longing to see relationships restored, or anything like that.

I pray infrequently, and with short, often careless prayers.

Most days, I live as a functional atheist, making decisions and working and playing as if my brain, my body, and this physical world are all there are.

I have felt a growing need to intentionally infuse my days with an awareness of the Spiritual.

I started this blog because I hoped it would help me to actually become a peculiar human being; but I’ve been trying to do that through outward acts alone. I really feel it’s time to spend some time focusing inward as well, remembering that I have a soul, and that it is in need of transformation.

I hope that this mindfulness will influence the way I interact with people and steward the resources that come into my hands, so that I desire to do good.

A few major ways I intend to infuse my life with holiness:

  • with liturgy. I recently purchased the pocket edition of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, and I’m totally in love. I now want to get my hands on the full-length edition and use it as a guide to help me pray more intentionally. Spontaneous prayers are important and good, but when I rely solely on my own feelings to guide me, I find that I’m terribly haphazard — I forget to pray for days on end, and when I do pray, I quickly get lost in other thoughts. I pray only about things that concern me personally, and I forget to ask God to work in me. I forget to pray about the Hard Things. So I want to take hands with others, and let them help me find the words to talk to my Maker.
  • by observing holy days. I want to fill my calendar not just with to-do lists, birthdays, and get-togethers, but with reminders of the biblical narrative, and perhaps even days celebrating saints who have gone before me. (I know this is a terribly un-Protestant thing to do, but I think there’s value in it). I also want to observe Natural Holidays (for lack of a better word — i.e. equinoxes and solstices, astronomical events, etc), to remind me that the universe goes far beyond what I typically experience in my everyday life. These events inspire awe at the One who created them, and reminds me that I’m part of a Grand Creation.

I’m still trying to think of other ways to seek out the sacred (other spiritual disciplines, rituals, readings, etc); and I also want  to continue to live a peculiar life in the ways I’ve begun to write about on the blog. These are just a few ideas that have been percolating for a while.

Regardless, I’ve decided that I want the word Holy to be my guiding word in 2013. It might not sound very exciting or original, but it’s the word that’s been planted on my heart.

P.S. — sorry that my writing is extra-bleh in this post. Like, more than usual, even. I had to write this post over three or four 5-minute writing sessions. My monkey of a toddler recently learned how to climb onto the kitchen table, along with a number of other tiring accomplishments. She is keeping me BUSY, meaning I have to stick with whatever words come to my head first, regardless of how cliche they are. I hope it’s not too tiresome.

How about you? Are you choosing a word to guide  you in the coming year? What is it? Or do you have another way of starting the new year? Or maybe you prefer not to enter the new calendar year in such a way? Please share!

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  1. Thanks for this. Along the same vein, I recently thought about the OT Jewish tradition of making all sorts of reminders of remembrance. Some, they would wear on their body. Some, they would erect as monuments. Some, they would celebrate as holy days. Some were parties. And, though these things, done out of a sense of duty, are little more than legalism, they can probably, with the right attitude, become important reminders of what is truly important. Recently, I ordered two custom leather bracelets for K and me. They contain only the following three words: WHO AM I? These words just kept coming to mind, when thinking about the most important question that I can ask myself daily. The question comes from two sides: I ask it of myself (and answer it each time I look at it), and I imagine Jesus asking it of me (and answer it each time I look at it). I have only had it for about 30 days, but it has become very special to me. So often in my past, I found that I was in a continuous “12-step program” to become a better ________. Yet, when I thought long and hard about the futility of such an endeavor, I was reminded of something that Ravi Zacharias taught me years ago: the uniqueness of Christ is that he changes who we are. Everything else is just religion. I never thought about observing holy days, but in the right posture of the heart, I can see great value in doing so.

  2. I can’t wait to see where this takes you – I too want to add in “natural” holidays into our celebrations too, and I’m excited to hear your take on it!
    Molly recently posted..Focus 2013: The Year of ….My Profile

  3. Excellent post! Just the thing I am trying to hit on this year as well. All my friends/family are talking about how they’re going to lose weight and buy a new car and get rid of all their dysfunctional friends… that’s nice, but I really wanted to go inward this year – praying especially (i’m terrible about), and generally having a much more peaceful and Jesus-like attitude. Great post, Kathleen! Happy New Year! Love from NC, USA.

  4. Wow wow wow! I am so excited for you, to see what this one little word will bring you this year. I can really identify with so many of your statements here, especially this one:
    “I have felt a growing need to intentionally infuse my days with an awareness of the Spiritual.”
    Hope you’ll let us journey along with you this year as you pursue all that is HOLY. I hope it will bless you in ways you don’t even expect yet.

    p.s. I have the Common Prayer book too and love it…
    fiona lynne recently posted..on a whole year of being braveMy Profile

  5. I really like what you’re doing with the one word HOLY.

    I hope you’ll come post it at

    Haven’t settled on my word for 2013 yet, but my word for 2012 was CREATE.

    Happy New Year!

  6. Beautifully written! I too have been recently interested in learning more about the church year and observance of Holy Days. I look forward to reading your future posts on the subject. I’ve just posted my own word of the year post here:

  7. Wow. This really struck me. I’ve been drifting, lately, feeling increasingly discontent and trying to fix that feeling by doing all those same sort of peculiar actions, but the real problem is I’ve lost my peculiar heart. Here’s to a little more holiness in 2013!

  8. I thought this was a great post, and a great word. At my church, we had a New Year’s Day intention setting service where we meditated on a feeling we wanted to manifest for the new year. From this feeling we brought forth a word. Then we were supposed to try this word on, as though it were our name and when we greeted one another, we did so with our new “intention” as our name. Though it seemed kind of silly, it ended up feeling very powerful to really own your word like that, and announce it to others. My word for the year is “Aligned” – with the holy, with my true self, living a life not driven by ego, but by God. :)

  9. Thank you for introducing me to “Common Prayer: A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals.” I went to the publisher’s website to read more about it, and found exactly the ecumenically-oriented, liturgical prayer book I was looking for to reboot my own prayer life.
    I am continually in wonder at how the Holy Spirit works. I found you while googling the no ‘poo method. I had no idea I would be led to such a rich, affirming site! I only wish you lived on my side of the country (I’m on Vancouver Island), so I could invite you over for tea.

  10. Sarah Fleming says:

    I just found your blog today and can’t wait to read everything. I feel like you are writing what is in my mind, but of things I haven’t had time to fully think about and explore.

    So right now I just have a simple question – do you have a calendar with all these dates – both religious and “Natural” that you can share with us. As a fellow Mennonite, I wonder if there are dates within our faith history that are worth noting.

    • Hi Sarah! So good to hear that my words connect with you!

      In regards to the calendar: a lot of the dates change year to year, so in January every year when I make my planner/calendar I look up all the various holidays and write them in manually. It’s a bit of work. You’ve given me the idea that I should share those dates here, though. Perhaps I will do that in January!!

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