It's that time of year again ... the beginning, the time for taking stock and making resolutions.
Though I stopped making formal resolutions several years ago, I do find that reviewing God's presence and action in my life during the past year, and asking God to provide a focus for the new year have definitely renewed and revitalized my relationship with God.
Our SSJ spirituality tells us that God "labors" and continually invites us into a deeper and fuller relationship, so it makes sense to me that God would want us to prayerfully consider where we are and where we have come from in the past year.
For several years, I have participated in a New Year's Eve retreat day at Francis House of Prayer in South Jersey. St. Joseph Sr. Marcy Springer has provided both enough direction and enough silent reflection to enable a prayerful, fruitful looking back and looking ahead with God.
Though I was unable to attend this past New Year's Eve, sharing with fellow associates who did participate encouraged me to use what I had learned to gently let go of 2017, while preparing to move confidently into the new year with God.
So where am I now? What great things has God done in me and what would God like to do for and in me this coming year? As I think about this, it is difficult to articulate the many movements and graces I have experienced.
As in any life-giving relationship, there is always renewed energy, new learning and greater intimacy. My relationship with God has not been any different.
Being retired, I am blessed to have the time for a daily prayer regimen, spiritual reading, various ministries, and attending classes or workshops. My experience of God has undergone a metamorphosis as to who God is and is continually becoming in my life.
Ironically, God is now more difficult to describe, and metaphors or analogies limp.
Yes, God is still all the Scripture images I have learned through the years, and some others that are more personal for me, but I find it harder to talk about who God is as I grow in my experience of and relationship with God.
During this past year, God has become a much more personal, relational, dynamic Lover who pursues me and constantly invites me to be my best self through love of God, myself and "the dear neighbor."
This God is always guiding, nudging, enlightening and inviting me to freedom from anything that makes me less than the person God calls me to be. God loves all of me and asks me to do the same.
This "new" God is a daily adventure, full of surprises. God often reveals new aspects of who God is and how God sees creation, often different from my limited view. And if I ask, and listen, God will provide all I need to know.
God is a deep, abiding presence which I now experience and can turn to in all circumstances and situations. It is an intimate, personal presence who is constantly encouraging, redirecting, teaching, loving, laughing, and suffering with me.
In a recent class I attended on discernment, the presenter used the analogy of God as our Global Positioning System (GPS): God continually recalculates and gets us where we need to be, if we are in right relationship with God and trying to live as committed Christians.
For me, that has become what I call Graced, Providential Synchronization (GPS) — not a very personal-sounding term, but it somehow draws me to focus on this God who is in control, knows the way when I don't, and is always finding means and methods to get into my heart, my head and my life.
I learned an interesting practice at one of my New Year's Eve retreat days. I ask God to name this new year, and gift me with those particular graces I may need to live it as God desires.
And again, Graced, Providential Synchronization of people, events, and circumstances has set a direction. I believe God is calling the year "Abundance," or as we say in Italian, "Abundanza!"
And I believe God is offering me the gifts of "light" and "trust" as my way to live this. It is an invitation to live out of the fullness of life, not limitation, perceived inadequacy or what seems to be missing.
It is living my favorite Scripture verse, "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
So with great enthusiasm, eagerness, trust and expectancy, I walk gently and prayerfully with God into this new year of 2018.
[Judy Principe is an associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Philadelphia. Her professional career was spent in training and development, organizational development and human resources. She holds a master's degree in management and supervision and a certificate in organizational development.]