A dear friend of mine sent me a new year’s greeting with wonderful words from T.S. Eliot:
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language/ And next year’s words await another voice. … What we call the beginning is often the end/ And to make an end is to make a beginning.” (from Little Gidding, II and V)
These words resonated with me for so many reasons, not least of which is that I wrote the last words of the last chapter of The Flourishing Tree book on the last day of 2012 (well, the first draft anyway). They are last year’s words. And now that I’ve made an end, I’m ready to make a new beginning.
There’s still editing to do to the book, and there’s the daunting task of finding an agent and publisher, but I’m excited about other writing projects I’ll begin in the year ahead. These projects have patiently awaited my attention and my voice.
Your end of 2012 and beginning of 2013 may not have as much to do with writing, but I bet there are words involved, nonetheless.
Are there words of hurt or shame or pain that you have carried over into this year from last year? Perhaps a friendship that ended with a hurtful email? Or the sting of being overlooked by your boss for a well-deserved promotion? Or words spoken in anger to a spouse or child that threaten your most precious relationship(s)?
Let me invite you to heed Eliot’s advice: let last year’s words belong to last year’s language and begin to look for a new voice to embrace. A voice that is full of love and healing and soothing.
I’m hoping this year to let go of a deep hurt that happened last year. The hurtful email I mentioned above was one a friend sent to me last June, and desiring a fresh start free of sadness, bitterness and resentment, I’ve deleted the email as a way of letting it belong to last year’s words. I will never again read those words that belong in the past.
And it frees me to move forward and look for this year’s voice, this year’s words.
I’ve done a lot of reading about new, fresh perspectives on other blogs in the last few days, and I thought I’d share a few of them with you, in case their topics are ones that resonate with you, too. There’s the one with a challenge about praying in a new way. There’s another that describes rethinking what we know for sure. Another encourages us to examine who we have crowned as king of our souls. And there’s one that describes a beautiful way of bringing light to others’ lives through a more intentional way of speaking with others.
So whatever words we have said to God, to others and to ourselves that need to be left in last year where they belong, let’s leave them. There are new words we can pray to God, new words we can share with others, and new words we can use to heal our own thoughts. I’m excited to find the new words. How about you?
I’m going to leave you today with more of T.S. Eliot’s beautiful words (I especially love what he says about prayer). May they inspire you to create your own beauty through words in the year ahead.
If you came this way,
Taking any route, starting from anywhere,
At any time or at any season,
It would always be the same: you would have to put off
Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,
Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity
Or carry report. You are here to kneel
Where prayer has been valid. And prayer is more
Than an order of words, the conscious occupation
Of the praying mind, or the sound of the voice praying …
I am not eager to rehearse
My thought and theory which you have forgotten.
These things have served their purpose: let them be.
So with your own, and pray they be forgiven
By others, as I pray you to forgive
Both bad and good. Last season’s fruit is eaten
And the fullfed beast shall kick the empty pail
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice …
What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph. And any action
Is to step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.
– from Little Gidding, I, II and V
As you search for your new words that have been awaiting your voice, I’d be honored to pray with you for what your heart desires in the year ahead. Whether it’s a hope or desire for something wonderful to come or a need to forgive words that belong to last year, together, our voices can reach God’s ears. Please feel free to tell me your prayer request in the comments below, or if you prefer our words pass in privacy, you may email me instead. I look forward to reading your words.