The Word

My friend Steve picked a word every year that was his word for the year. At the beginning of November, Steve would start to pray for guidance in choosing his word and by the first Sunday in Advent (the beginning of the Church’s New Year) he had his word. Over the years, his list included such words as love, will, peace, forgiveness, trust, etc.—spiritual words. The practice of choosing a word was one part of his spiritual life.

Steve’s word would shape his prayer life for the year and when our faith-sharing group met, Steve would update us on how his word was influencing his prayer life and vice versa. He seemed to be aware of his word at all times.

I was always impressed that he chose a new word each year and that he remembered it throughout the whole year. It was like a New Year’s resolution that was lived out.

On the First Sunday of Advent this year, I thought of Steve and his words. This spiritual practice of his was a comforting ritual for me. I loved witnessing Steve’s word take on new meanings and new depth over the year. His word was a visible manifestation of his inner life. I felt honored to know Steve’s word and to share in his spiritual journey.

When Steve was still in college, the car he was driving was hit by a train that was speeding through a corn field, and Steve’s body was horribly mangled. Surgeons put his body back together but he was in chronic pain for the rest of his life. He never complained, although he used to say his stomach was on his right shoulder and joke about the number of pills he took every day. He underwent many surgeries over the years, but nothing could completely fix what the train had broken.

Next Sunday will mark one year since Steve went home to God. He was a good friend and a great spiritual companion. Steve had a zany sense of humor, a keen sense of wonder and a deep spirituality. The physical limitations caused by the train wreck did not limit his spirit, and his life was an inspiration to me.

I miss him terribly.



6 thoughts on “The Word

  1. Patrick

    Another “hit” Madeline…loved the “word” strategy…a great way to live…what an honor to know you not only in yourself (which is enuf) but to know the people you know, through you!

  2. John

    Thank you, Madeline, for remembering Steve. I hadn’t thought of him in a while, but I miss him too. He accepted me totally. He brightened my day.

    My word for today is “Steve.”

    1. Madeline Bialecki Post author

      John, I think it was one of Steve’s greatest gifts–that he accepted people as they were and where they were. I carried him with me all day yesterday, remembering his faithfulness, his sense of humor and his deep spirituality. He was the last person Jim and I visited, and one of the last times Jim was able to leave the house. We sat in Steve’s kitchen and chatted; it was like old times, and we knew it was our last time together because Jim was near death and Steve was having back surgery in a few days. Steve was like the Energizer Bunny and even though he was near-death so many times, when it came, it seemed so sudden. His outlook on life was incredibly positive despite all the pain he lived with; I try to remember his optimism every day.

  3. Madeline Bialecki Post author

    Thanks Anne Marie. I now have a series of words that have stayed with me, and I call on one or the other at different times. Steve was so disciplined in his word practice-I am a bit too scattered. It is like doing lectio divina and catching the one word God is giving–and then reflecting on it for a year.


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