Practice of the Week
Option A: Name What Needs to Return
Renewal often comes through return. We get 25 steps down the road not realizing we had left precious pieces behind. What's missing when you look around? What have you let fall from your life? And how can you help it return? Fun? Forgiveness? Quiet? Time for yourself? That weekly night at the movies? A Saturday walk in the woods? Ambition? Art?
Your assignment: Name something precious that you want to return to your life. Spend the month making it happen.
Option B: Turn Away
“In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion.” (Albert Camus)This assignment asks us to take Camus’ words seriously. Every religious tradition reminds us that renewal sometimes requires removing ourselves from the normal ways of the world. Often we have to remove something from our life to make room for renewal to return.
- Remove speed and the rat race from your life by trying out the practice of Sabbath.
- Remove distraction and disconnection from your family by making a rule that everyone needs to put the cell phones on the shelf from dinner until the end of the night.
- Remove your evening practice of a couple glasses of wine and find another way to relax.
- Free yourself from the stereotypes about "senior citizens” and dye your hair purple or parachute out of a plane.
- Kick the habit of consumerism by cutting your clothes budget for a month or two and wearing the same outfit for one week at a time. (It can be done: See BefriendingGreen, "Same Dress Different Day")
Option C: Turn It Into Something New
It's one of the most important insights along the spiritual path: Renewing the world is often the best path to renewing oneself. Whether it is working for justice or finding a way to bring a bit more beauty to our little neck of the woods, fixing the world regularly fixes us. Use this month to explore the spiritual truth more deeply.
Here are some stories about how others did it. May they inspire you to find your way:
- Renewal Stories - 4
- The Mosaic Man
- How I Brought a River, and My City, Back to Life
- Washed Ashore Project
Option D: Return to a Place of Renewal
“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” (Nelson Mandela)This assignment asks us to take Mandela’s words seriously. Two ways to go about this:
1. Return to a place or time in your past by physically going there or pulling out the scrapbook. Often it helps to bring someone along on the journey. Sometimes they can see things we can't.
2. Return to a place or time that once brought you renewal. That path along the river or view out over the city which helped you feel that life had possibility again after the loss of your job. Dig out that picture of the dog you had as a kid. The one who slept with you and comforted you while your parents were going through their divorce. Even though it may make you feel silly or sentimental, pull out that old wedding dress, spread it out on the bed or dare to put it on. Call up that old friend from college. The one who was there through so much change and growing up.
Going back doesn't always mean going backwards. It often can mean gaining back something we need now. Maybe that's exactly the journey you have to make this month.
Reflect on your renewal exercise in your journal. What did it do to you? What was hard about it? What was easier than you thought it would be?
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Previous Practice of the Week: "Simplify"
For list of all weekly practices: "Practices of the Week Index"