By Sister Judith Minear
I was a scrupulous little kid. Nothing pleased me more than a meticulously scheduled day. I fell in love with making lists in grade school, and soon became a big fan of the joy one feels when crossing off a list item. DONE! I became so enamored of that delicious sensation that if I did anything not on my list, I quickly added it just so I could cross it off. I was officially an organization geek by age 10!
My very favorite moments in life have always been beginnings. Fresh starts, whether it be a new school year, a new journal, or turning a new age on a birthday. And the best beginning of them all? NEW YEAR’S DAY! I delighted in plotting and planning for perfection every time the calendar turned from December to January. THIS would be the year in which I would keep every resolution, crossing off every hope and accomplishment I had carefully mapped out, complete with timeline.
Things never worked out as I planned, of course. What was I doing wrong?
I continued to maneuver my New Year’s resolutions. I calculated time available versus resolution and motivation. I streamlined. Still, I seldom made it past February before my resolve failed.
A number of years ago, I began attending A New Year’s Yoga retreat offered by Carol Williams, an amazing yoga instructor (and Congregation of St. Joseph Associate) at Rivers Edge. At her retreats, Carol offers a new way of thinking about how to welcome the new year.
Resolutions, she points out, are firm decisions to do or not do something. They are predetermined, close-fisted decisions that you either DO (win) or you DON’T (lose).
Intentions, on the other hand, are things intended; an aim, or a plan. They are open-handed. They might shift and change. They are lived out differently on a day to day basis. They do not have one right answer. Why not set intentions?
Since that first retreat, I have relished not just setting New Year’s intentions, but living with intention. And for me, as a Sister of St. Joseph, this means living intentionally in ways that help me to better live our mission and charism of unity and oneness in my relationships. Intentional living helps me to remember that I am a human being, not a human doing. Embracing intentional living helps me to remember who I am and who I want to be in this world…and then act accordingly. The best part? When I fail to live with intention (and I do, too frequently), I don’t chastise myself (much) or give up. I simply set a new intention.
Of course, I still make my “things to do” lists, and relish crossing off my accomplishments. We all have tasks and projects we need to undertake. But the broad strokes of my daily actions and relationships are driven by dipping into the intentions that focus how I live the mission. And this makes me a much better Sister of St. Joseph as well as a better human.
My intentions for 2020 include the following:
- My consideration of consumerism calls me to rethink (if I really need to purchase), reduce, reuse, repair, replenish, reconnect, and, as a last resort, recycle.
- The quality of my presence makes a difference in every kind of relationship I encounter. Notice and be present.
- The mission can be and is accomplished every ordinary moment of every ordinary day. It starts with the dear neighbor right next to me. Be awake.
What are your 2020 intentions?
About the Author
Sister Judith Minear currently serves as part of a 3-member team for CSJ Ministries as Coordinator for Mission Integration. CSJ Ministries is the umbrella organization that works with ministries that are members of our Mission Network. In her free time, she loves drawing zentangles, stalking birds and savoring poetry.