When Justin invites me to listen, to pray, asking God for a new word for this year, my head nods. I hear my voice say yes. And then I ask for my heart to catch up.
A new year’s promise of new beginnings can feel heavy if we let it. Funny, isn’t it, that a promise for newness. for starting over, can feel like another thing to do, to get right.
The word “beginning” suggests newness, freshness. It is the start of something, perhaps even the origination of something that has not existed before. And don’t we all want that? A beginning is a positive word–usually suggesting something good: the end of a bad habit, the end of a tough situation, the end of a way of thinking that wasn’t healthy and only led to a dead end.
Beginnings are the opposite of dead ends. They are the yellow brick road of possibility. What is around the corner? What new surprise, new adventure, new way of looking at and being in the world will this new beginning hold? What one word, whispered into our hearts by God, represents the new beginning God has in mind for us?
Be careful here.
To say yes to a new beginning, we first need to check in with our hearts. New beginnings are always a step toward God, not a running away from pain, not an ignoring or wishing away of a situation we wish never was.
I know this because the invitation to a new beginning used to be a way for me to try to escape a situation, ignore some deeper hurts within my heart that God wanted to heal. We must consider this: our idea of a new beginning and God’s idea for a new beginning might be very different. And that’s worth figuring out. Trust me. Beginnings are a charade for growth if we struggle to love ourselves, as we are, right now.
For the Loop Poetry Project prompt this week, you are invited to write a poem processing your heart’s reaction to the word “beginning.” When you hear this word, what is your initial reaction? Start your writing here. What images does the word “beginning” call up within you? What memories? What do you want to compare it to? What emotions are you feeling? If you are excited about a new beginning–hope-filled, enthusiastic–let your heart tell you why. And then write down, through description and images, what these emotions look like, feel like, sound like. And if you are nervous, cautious, a bit wary of this invitation to “begin” again, have your poem express that.
Another approach might be to have a conversation with Beginning, as if it were a person. Talk to this Begining as if it were in the room. Don’t think too much. Don’t second-guess. Let your heart speak for you. What is your heart’s reaction to the word? Is it skeptical, wary? Is it optimistic, full of ideas and hopes for what this beginning will mean for you?
As you listen to your heart–and you hear the poem speaking to you–let it go where it wants to go. If your heart, your poem, wants to tell you a story about beginnings that feels kind of irrelevant to your focus–kind of side-ways and peculiar, definitely write that. Don’t exclude it. Listen. Watch. See what it is, where it goes. Chase the rabbit around the room and through the hole. Let it scamper around through this hallway and then the next. Let the mystery unfold. Who said beginnings have to be clear? Who said we have to know where the ending to any beginning really is?
After you have finished writing your poem, read it aloud to yourself. Listen to it. What is your heart saying? Is it true? Then take your poem to God, this poem that you have written with Him, and ask Him what else there is to discover in it, what else He wants to show you, what else He is saying. And then….then… if you feel like this is the next good thing to do…ask Him what word He has for you this year. What adventure of a new beginning is He wanting to write on your heart?
As always, if you feel like you would like to share your writing in community, please do so here, in the comments–or, even better yet, on social media, like Instagram (using the hashtag #looppoetryproject so we can find you), or on Facebook, in the Loop Poetry Project private group. (You can join here.)
Much love to you, beautiful poets,