One (not so) Little Word 2017

I’ve never before officially participated in the #onelittleword challenge.  There have been many times when I’ve set an intention for a specific period of time – whether a day, a week, a liturgical season…but not officially for the whole year.

Recently, though, one of my Sacred Sisters posted something about it on facebook.  We were semi-serious, as it was a stressful time and we were managing to laugh at the stress.

Then, I got to thinking.  I like this #OneLittleWord idea.  I’ve never been much for New Year’s Resolutions, but one word to sum up intentions for the year – I like it.  So, what’s my word?

What started as a joke actually has, after quite a bit of thought, become my word for 2017:  Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

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Seriously. This one not-so-little word pretty much sums up my intentions for 2017.  Before you click away from this page thinking I’m making fun of #onelittleword, I assure you I’m not. Let me explain: The word is an antidote. (If I’m making fun of anything, I’m making fun of myself.)

It was made popular in the movie Mary Poppins. This children’s classic (starring Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke) was groundbreaking for its time with its use of animated sequences and live actors in the same scenes.  Mary Poppins had just won a horse race, and she’s asked for her response. There’s a word to sum it up, she says, and they break into song: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! An amazing word to sum up an amazing feeling.

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Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews in Mary Poppins.

I want amazing – in 2017 and beyond. I want childlike awe, joy.  I want to dance and laugh about the good things in life, whether big or small – because there are always good things.  There are many negative things in the world, but there are always good things in God’s creation. I am realizing that the word is also a sort of shield for me. The littlest things can be good, joyful, worth laughing about.

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Talisman.

One day recently, a group of our Sacred Sisters met, prayed, and burned what we wanted to release from our lives. We sang together, and shared our words for the coming year.  I suddenly realized that I’d been thinking that I SHOULD have a sensible, serious word for the year – I don’t want anyone thinking I’m poking fun at the idea! But once again, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious danced in my brain, and I realized… it is my antidote for should.

You see, SHOULD is not the voice of conscience for me; rather, it is a hoax, a pretender, a thief.  It is sly, masquerading itself as good when it is, in truth, an attempt to derail my true self.

In prayer, I have asked that Divine Guidance use different terminology when nudging me to act or not act.  The results have been interesting.  My soul whispers “you might want to….” or “consider this…” I listen, I pray, I consider, and often act. However, if I hear “you SHOULD…” I take a very careful look at the suggestion, for should negates free choice. Should is coming from somewhere other than Divine Guidance.

I didn’t realize this particular characteristic of being an antidote of my chosen word until we stood at the fire pit and shared our words and how they came to us.

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Sometimes things just…pop into consciousness.

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. The word itself is nonsensical, meaning (according to various dictionaries)  “fantastic,” “awesome,” “something totally indescribable” or simply “the longest word you can come up with.”  Wikipedia (as well as a few other sites) break it down into roots, and come up with something along the lines of “atoning for educability through delicate beauty,” which to me sounds like something found on a poorly-translated fortune cookie.

Songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman have described the word as similar to one from their youth, and that the final form of the word as we know it came from their actual songwriting process. Ah!!

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Christmas Day 2016 in south Louisiana.  Don’t we all need some silliness at times?

So my “one not-so-little-word” for 2017 began life as a nonsense word, which was finalized in the craft of songwriting.  Through the magic of creativity, it took on a life of its own.  As a magical word, it becomes my shield.  It connects me to childlike wonder and reminds me to slow down to see the beauty in the world.   It reminds me that I don’t need to take myself so seriously. It reminds me to act out of love rather than out of rigid duty. It slays the shoulds.

The other day, after sharing my word (and reasons for it), we all broke into song:

Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious
even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough you’ll always sound precocious,
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

…at which point, Patti and I started dancing and continuing with “dum diddle diddle ay dum diddle ar, dum diddle diddle ay dum diddle ar…”

I’m reminded that God has a sense of humor, and that yes, we are made in God’s image.

Here’s wishing you a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious year.

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Lighting the fire

It’s the last few hours of 2016. It’s been a drizzly day, and I have a pot of blackeye peas on the stove for tomorrow. Fireworks, various pyrotechnics and fires in general have long been a family tradition around the turn of the year, and this year has been no exception in spite of the rain. Long before the “garden firepit” came onto the scene, we built fires in the backyard.

Each Christmas saw my brother and me heading to the hardware store or fireworks stand to carefully select penny skyrockets, roman candles, and other goodies. Firecrackers were best suited for blowing up crawfish castles (the small chimney of mud that remains above ground when crawfish set up housekeeping). We still enjoy fireworks, and in recent years have undertaken a bonfire tradition.

There’s something primal about a fire, this momentary return to the light as the days grow ever-so-slightly longer. We in south Louisiana don’t have to deal with long periods of darkness, but even so, we love our bonfires, campfires and fire pits. A friend made a fire kettle that is suspended from a tripod. Spent ashes fall through the hole, and fresh wood is added to the top. In the fall and winter, we often hang out around the fire in the evenings. I find myself soaking up the peacefulness – or engaging in discussion about anything from theology to politics to history or philosophy – you know, the fun, lightweight stuff.

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Cast iron firepit, site of many lively discussions.

Yesterday we had our end of the year bonfire. (Said bonfire can be any time we have enough wood, energy, and dry, cool weather around Christmas / New Year / Epiphany. If those things don’t converge, we don’t have a bonfire.) David (husband), Greg (brother) and Bubba (music partner/friend) outdid themselves in the planning and execution.

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Scrap wood used for shipping is bonfire fuel.

The plan was to start it burning at the top so that it would burn evenly and not collapse too soon.

Fireworks (bottle rockets) were strategically placed along the top, pointing in safe directions. Firecrackers were tucked inside. Of course, our bonfire site is in the open, well away from anything that could catch. Fortunately, south Louisiana isn’t the tinderbox situation that exists in some areas.

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My brother, always the ham.  I don’t blame him for being proud of this one, though. They added a “porch,” decorative top and bottle rockets prior to lighting.

Gumbo, potato salad, mulled wine, family and some friends made it a great way to celebrate the return of the light. I can’t help but think of how many families and communities since the dawn of time have celebrated the promise of renewed light with a fire. (Power tools only a recent invention, too!)

 

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Starting at the top of each section.

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Whoosh!! If 2016 was a good year, celebrate!

This past year was a good one for some, a bad one for others, and a mixed bag for most. Each year, regardless of how the year has been, we celebrate the return of the light at Christmas. We turn inward during the dark of the year. We can either join the fear of the dark, or celebrate the light.

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And if 2016 was a bad year, torch it!

The other day I was in a store, browsing some after-Christmas discounts, and a woman walked by and said “you see a lot of stuff left this year – that’s because no one has any money! People don’t have any money!” I recognized her frustration, and her fear. The repercussions of low oil prices have rippled through Louisiana and beyond, leaving thousands without jobs. For many, unemployment benefits have run out. Some are relocating against their will. Many are fearing this darkness, as well as the darkness elsewhere in the world. We turn to faith and the promise of Christmas.

And we light a fire, whether for warmth, light, or just fun. In doing so, we connect with ancestors of long ago and not-so-long ago as we watch the flames, knowing that light will always dawn again.

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Light awaits.

It is the season of light and miracles. We are still in the “12 days of Christmas” as we move towards Epiphany. This year, the first day of Hanukkah coincided with Christmas Day. I pray on this New Year’s Eve that these ancient celebrations of light and miracles bring positive changes, peace and the ever-growing light of love to all.