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Give Me a Word 2023

In ancient times, wise men and women fled out into the desert to find a place where they could be fully present to the divine 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 5, 2023 and you are automatically entered for the prize drawing (prizes listed below).


As in past years, we are 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 the Sunday, December 11th email and at the bottom of each Sunday following).


Please share your word with us in the comments below

(and it would be wonderful if you included a sentence about what it means for you)

Subscribe to the Abbey of the Arts newsletter to receive ongoing inspiration in your in-box. You can choose daily, weekly, or monthly. Share the love with others and invite them to participate. Then stay tuned – on January 8th we will announce the prize winners!

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475 Responses

  1. IN, the first two letters of the Title of the Cross, INRI, King of the Jews. I very much enjoyed and am graciously thankful for this Retreat. I deligently studied the meditations but I must be hard of hearing because, “I heard nothing”. I remained patience though knowing, it will come and I already have a Mantra from a very dear person whom I met on this Pilgrimage of Life. Love! And what could be a better partner for the word Love but in. When my younger brother passed away in 1980, our father wanted me to have his ring. A huge gold ring with a Lachs fish, leaves, grapes and the word Alaska. My father had recently gotten Jimbo, his junior, a job as a Lachs fisherman in Alaska and had this ring made for him as a reward. On his first holiday he came home to Seattle with a big box of Alaskan King Crab. And met with his death the same day. In a tragic car accident. At that time I wasn’t a vegetarian and we all feasted on Jimmy’s King Crab. The ring was beautiful but craven by all. As a memorium to Jimmy. But my father wanted me to have as I was the next in line to Jimmy and I wore it proudly. When my wife passed away in 2007, I had our wedding bands added to it. And when the miracle of my nephew, (Jimmy’s son, born two months before his passing), finding me happened, well now he has the ring of his father whom he never knew and whom we had never known because he was adopted at birth. Sorry, it’s complicated, but “back at the farm” as Mama always said, I wasn’t Lord of the Ring anymore. Until I found a new ring. With scraches like the word IN. I could go and on about the word, in, but I think my comment is already too long! Sorry and all the best to all of you Monks, Artists and Pilgrims.


    Alert to the present moment
    In a place of peace
    Accompanied by the persistent presence of God

  3. Two words keep coming up: dichotomy (or holding tension) and then embodiment. But when I consider what shimmers, the word embodiment is the word for 2023.

  4. Breathe

    Breathe in, feel the air filling, expanding in your lungs,
    Reaching down into the smallest of air sacs, deep in your being.
    Exhale, let go of all that is old and past,
    Ancient history consigned to a time long gone.
    Train yourself to walk new paths,
    Hear from Heaven itself,
    Eternity begins here and now.

  5. Beauty
    You are here in the sunrise, the moonrise and the wave and smile of a little one.
    I see you every morning in the face off my beloved.
    I am ever grateful for your awesome beauty.

  6. Creating God
    You alone are a wondrous Mystery
    I feel and see your essence and being in all living things
    You guide me through times of trial
    And provide comfort when I need a firmer footing
    Creating God
    You are as dynamic as is all of creation
    Ever changing with me, in me, through me
    Creating God
    You alone are my comfort and support
    I feel so blessed to know within my depths
    That you are there now and ALWAYS


    Feel alive
    Love, listen, live actively
    Open myself to new experiences
    Unearth hidden truths
    Reconnect with forgotten dreams
    Invite others in
    Savor time with friends
    Honor my truth