Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Give Me a Word 2016: 7th Annual Abbey Giveaway


In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to God and to their own inner struggles at work within them. The desert became a place to enter into the refiner’s fire and be stripped down to one’s holy essence. The desert was a threshold place where you emerged different than when you entered.

Many people followed these ammas and abbas, seeking their wisdom and guidance for a meaningful life. One tradition was to ask for a word –  this word or phrase would be something on which to ponder for many days, weeks, months, sometimes a whole lifetime. This practice is connected to lectio divina, where we approach the sacred texts with the same request – “give me a word” we ask – something to nourish me, challenge me, a word I can wrestle with and grow into.  The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.

What is your word for the year ahead? A word which contains within it a seed of invitation to cross a new threshold in your life?

Share your word in the comments section below by January 6, 2016 and you are automatically entered for the prize drawing (prizes listed below).


As in past years, I am offering all Abbey newsletter subscribers a gift: a free 12-day online mini-retreat with a suggested practice for each day to help your word choose you and to deepen into your word once it has found you. Even if you participated last year, you are more than welcome to register again.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and you will receive a link to start your mini-retreat today. Your information will never be shared or sold. (If you are already subscribed to the newsletter, look for the link in today’s email).


We are delighted to offer some wonderful gifts from the Abbey:

So please share your word (and it would be wonderful to include a sentence about what it means for you) with us below.

Subscribe to the Abbey newsletter to receive ongoing inspiration in your in-box. Share the love with others and invite them to participate.  Then stay tuned – on January 6th we will announce the prize winners!

If this is your first time commenting at the Abbey, or you are including a link, your comment will need to be approved before appearing, which usually takes less than 24 hours.

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Andrew Lang

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to our Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Andrew Lang’s reflection Opening our Posture to the Sacrament of the Present Moment. I sat atop the rocky Washington beach, watching the

Read More »

712 Responses

  1. My word is “choose joy”. “Choose” is my life word, as described by Oriah Mountain Dreamer in “The Call”. “Joy” is something that is no longer natural to me (it must have been as a child), but needs conscious attention. “Joy” has come up multiple times over the last few weeks, and the combination feels potent.

  2. The word that has “found me” is OREMUS….Latin for “Let us pray”…… reminding and nudgng me to pray (in ALL ways.). Marie

  3. The Word was made flesh, Jesus, the second Adam. Both spoken into existence. What kind of genes are running through me? His image. His authority to rule,

  4. My word is Inside-Out, and it found me within minutes of my beginning intention to listen for it. I have waited several days to post here – because it happened so quickly. But it has only grown more clear, so it’s time to make it official! Inside-Out signifies my desire to attend to what is real and true within me as a starting point for expanding outward growth – from the invisible to the visible. This relates to myself as an embodied human being and my interactions with others, too. It’s a dynamic word and needed a hyphen to hold all that movement together! I have favored introspection over movement for some time but am learning to take those steps OUT. My prayer for this year is that this word will help me grow deeper in both inward and outward movements – thanks to a little hyphen that maintains the tension and connection between them.

  5. My word for the year has morphed through several thoughts and phrases to “present.” == to be present in the moment. To be present means I will be open to opportunities God brings to me, instead of trying to figure out everything.

  6. My word for 2016 is ‘Connection’. It has lots of resonances for me, about seeking to make ever deeper and more meaningful connection with the people I meet, and with Creation around me. I think a very specific invitation it points to is that of letting the past connect with my art and writing, so that I can take inspiration from it, express its essence, and find the grace of healing in the process.

  7. I believe my word is “soften”. I’ve resisted this word, thinking that somehow it is not spiritual enough. Or that somehow it is too directive. But as I mender through the lessons, I am reminded that the word that chooses me may reveal its meaning over time. So I choose to receive it. Soften. Where will that take me?