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Message for January 2022

Happy New Year! In this first month of 2022, we are invited to explore living with intention – an appropriate theme as we begin a new year. I’m not talking about making new year’s resolutions which can lead to disappointment and frustration when they are abandoned after only a few weeks. Instead, living with intention suggests being thoughtful and deliberate rather than impulsive and reactive. It means choosing to be and do whatever is most important to you.

It reminds me of the concept of sankalpa that I’ve been learning about through my meditation practice. It’s an invitation to set an intention, an expression of a heartfelt desire, and to state it in affirmative and present-tense terms. Instead of saying I want to stop some undesirable habit or way of being, one affirms that they are already doing or being what is most desired. Instead of saying I will be less anxious, one says I am living with peace and ease. It’s not about setting goals so much as listening to who you are and manifesting it in your life.

I won’t pretend that I’ve mastered this skill, but I have become intrigued by the idea of listening more intently and intentionally to who I am and how I want to be in the world. And setting intentions feels most natural at starting moments – the start of the new year, new month, new week, or new day. Taking a moment to set an intention for the day helps bring into focus what is most important and increases the likelihood that my behavior will match my values.

Meditation is one way to set intentions. I’ve found receiving daily emails also helps give a lens through which to look at the day. Rev. Galen Guengerich, minister of the UU congregation All Souls New York City, sends out a First Light meditation. Taking a moment to read some words of wisdom, to consider whether they resonate or not, can help me approach the day more mindfully. I especially appreciate those messages that address what I’m wrestling with already. This morning’s meditation was a quote from Anna Jameson (a 19th century Anglo-Irish art historian): “What we truly and earnestly aspire to be, that in some sense we are. The mere aspiration, by changing the frame of mind, for the moment realizes itself.” Her “mere aspiration” sounds like a sankalpa, doesn’t it?

In the month ahead, I invite you to consider how you might live with intention, to explore what is your heart’s desire, and what practices might help along the way. It could be personal practices like meditation, journaling, or reading. Or it could be engaging with others at UUC, on Sunday mornings or in gatherings throughout the week. As we begin a new year, one that holds as much promise and uncertainty as the past year, let us do so with intention.

Wishing us all a happy new year,

Rev. Pam