During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I began to seriously contemplate my word of the year for 2016. I was conscious of the desire for it to choose me rather than me choose it. So, one morning, as David and I went about reclaiming our living space from the glorious chaos of Christmas day, he selected a Beatles play list as our background music. We went about tidying up and concurrently lost ourselves in these old tunes that had once shaped our young lives.
I was in the kitchen when Paul’s voice began to croon the all-familiar song, “Let It Be.” It had been some time since I’d listened to the words and was immediately drawn in by the lyrics. “When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me speaking words of wisdom, ‘Let it be.’ ‘Let it be, let it be. There will be an answer, let it be.’”
The phrase “let it be” seemed to reach out for me, taking hold of my attention and drawing me into its simple, trusting character. So, naturally, I began to contemplate them as my mantra for 2016. Simultaneously, I had emailed my spiritual director and asked if she would also pray with me for my word of the year. And when we met a few days ago, she shared what had come to her.
Nancy offered the word “balance” for me to consider. She proceeded to explain how she understood it. Drawing a picture of a teeter-totter with a fulcrum in the middle, she described the concept of balance (as a verb) from the tradition of St. Benedict. On one side of the teeter-totter is the idea of continual conversion; on the other side, the idea of stability. In the middle, at the fulcrum, she wrote the word “listen.” She suggested that I consider the verb “balance” and the role of listening and discernment as I navigate when to lean toward growth and conversion and when to remain stable and settled.
Nancy knows me. She recognizes that my natural inclination is toward growth, expansion and continual conversion. My less natural inclination is toward stability, preservation and contentment. Her concept of balance and my words “let it be” form a meaningful relationship. My task is to find the “middle way,” as it’s called in Benedictine spirituality; to listen and discern when it’s time to innovate and when it is time to “let it be.”
It makes me smile as I consider the serendipity of God’s ways coming together through pop culture and the ancient charism of spiritual companionship.