First published on GodspaceLight.com on December 28th 2022
This is the time of year when we are encouraged by almost everything that passes through our inboxes and magazine reading to “reflect on the past year”. Even in churches we’ll be encouraged to think about that. But when the disciples ask Jesus what is the most effective prayer, he gives what has now become known as The Lord’s Prayer. One of the lines in it tells us to ask for our Daily Bread; not yearly, monthly, whatever, but daily. In other places Jesus is recorded as telling us not to worry about tomorrow, but to cast each day’s cares onto God. He also tells a story about a man who builds a barn to store his grain in which sounds like a really good idea, but then the man is dead the following day; it was a waste of time for him to reflect on his great harvest and plan too far in advance.
There is a practise I have been into which I think is Benedictine, and it is to reflect on my day as I get into bed. As I ponder and reflect on my day I can ask for forgiveness, can forgive others, can see what I need to sort for tomorrow [though I always recheck the tomorrow things the next day to check I’ve got that correct]. It also means if I have done something that I feel I need to put right I can do it the following morning.
There is a multi-million dollar/pound/euro industry of self-help books that talk about living in the moment, living in mindfulness. But you can’t be “mindful” if you’re reflecting on something that happened a few months ago. Surely that is contradicting their own teaching. And as Christians if Jesus is saying ask for what we need daily, then do these practices not contradicting our theology?
Also, when it comes to remembering, even during that same day we put our own filters across our experiences: negative, self-blaming, accusing, condemning, positive, etc. But the further we are removed from an event the more we blur it, the more we put our own emotional memories into it. So if we do the reflecting the same day and get the rubbish cleared out, then each morning really does start as a new day – really does start with us being able to truly live out our daily bread.
The other thing we are encouraged to do this time of year is set goals. Hands up – who then feels disappointed in themselves by February, or sooner, that they haven’t stuck with their very well intentioned goals? Goals are again like the man who builds the barn; full of great intentions but we don’t know what’s round the corner. We don’t know what the world will throw at us. Loads of things I am doing as this year ends I couldn’t have envisioned, and other things I thought might happen didn’t. So no goal setting for me because like I say for one it isn’t leaning on God, isn’t living in the moment, and also leads to disappointment.
Instead, I do have some things I would like to come to fruition in the coming months so I am doing some QEC work around them. And there are other things that I need to ponder, check my heart about, talk with God about, and see what becomes of them.
Though I realise as I come to the end of this post that I do tell a little lie to myself and to you, my reader. I do have a goal. Quite a big goal. It is to continue clearing the junk out of my heart so that I can hear it properly which will mean more QEC, more working with God. This will lead to trusting myself in a deeper way, trusting the Universe in a deep way, and trusting the Creator of the Universe in a deeper way.
All of which can only come about through daily forgiveness of myself and others and daily asking for those things I need to nourish me throughout each and every day.