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.