January 2022

Spirit Garden Reflections

A Good Word

Blessing is intended to strengthen human presence.

-John O’Donohue

Welcome to the Reflection for
January 2022!

For many of us, it has become customary to begin the New Year by receiving a word that can offer us guidance, insight and opportunities for growth.  Some of us have one word for the year and some of us select a few focus words to guide us. 

The act of selecting a word to walk with in the days ahead can provide something to orient our awareness around.  Returning to the word repeatedly throughout the year can become a mindfulness practice.

The author, Christine Valters Paintner shares that there is an ancient tradition among the desert fathers and mothers of going to an elder and asking them to give you a word.  The word was meant to be life-giving and enhancing, something the Novice could grow into.  So, once a word was received, the individual would go away to pray and meditate with the word and allow it to become their teacher.  When they felt they had discovered all there was to learn and assimilate from that word, they would return for another.  In this way, they opened themselves up to receive wisdom, strength, and insight from each word that was given. 

As I pondered what my word(s) for the year might be, my mind wandered into the realm of the many ways that words have been used to invoke the divine presence in our midst.  I began to think about the rich heritage of sharing words such as benedictions and blessings; these too are ways that words are used to infuse our daily lives with sacredness and meaning. 

The title, A Good Word, seemed to arise from within as I sat with all of this.  It seemed appropriate to be speaking of Benedictions and Blessings in this first month of the year.  These good words are often spoken at turning points in life when we cross a threshold.

As we have crossed the threshold into 2022, may this Spirit Garden Reflection provide you with some good words to journey with you as the year unfolds.

Peace-filled blessings,

A Good Word

The audio file below offers a short reflection on the theme of giving and receiving a ‘good word’.  The audio is followed by a handout with some questions that are intended to help you journal your own thoughts and experiences around this theme.

Please print these out before you listen to the audio file. You are invited to pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee and take some quiet time to listen to the reflection and then reflect upon the questions.  May this be a nourishing and replenishing time of some soul tending for you.

Reflection Questions

Please click on the button below to download the reflection questions to go along with the reflection on a Good Word.

If you haven’t selected a word for the year, you may wish to let your gaze fall upon the word cloud image below.  Without thinking about it too much, simply notice if your eye is drawn to a particular word that attracts your focus.  Write that word down in a journal or on a piece of paper, be with it for a few days and see if this word has selected you to journey with it in 2022.

Words for 2022

Spirit Garden Moments

Spirit Garden Moments offer a short pause in your day and an opportunity for reflection.  January’s Spirit Garden Moment continues the theme of offering words of blessing to ourselves and others.

A Kind Word


A Kind Word

One kind word can warm three winter months.

-Japanese Proverb

The Spirit Garden Reflection for the month of January focused on the ways that we might bless others and ourselves with our attention and our words. 

As this month draws to a close, I have been chatting with a number of people who are feeling the mid-winter blues as well as the weariness of the pandemic.  So I wanted to offer a few words of encouragement that tie into the act of blessing.

A blessing is an act of kindness that we can turn towards ourselves, as well as others.  When we place our hand over our heart and offer a kind word to ourselves, it is more than a symbolic action.  Holding your hand over your heart releases oxytocin.  Oxytocin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that can help reduce the stress response, promote relaxation as well as feelings of trust and empathy.

As we each continue to cope with the extra stressors associated with living through this pandemic, you may wish to begin your day with a gentle act of self-blessing by taking a few moments to place your hand over your heart, connect with your breath and offer yourself a few words of blessing, such as these words from a traditional Gaelic blessing by John Ritter:

“Deep peace of the flowing air to you, Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.”

The author, Dr. Shauna Shapiro, who has been studying the effects of mindfulness for many years, has written a book called, Good Morning, I Love You.  Her suggestion is to begin your day by placing your hand on your heart and saying to yourself, “Good Morning, (insert your name), I love you.”

This simple act of self-kindness can have transformative effects.  In these little ways, we can give ourselves a boost of love and support.

With gentle blessings,

In Closing

As this year unfolds before us, may the sharing of good words, blessings and benedictions be gifts that help us live from the presence of our hearts.  May you gather the good words that you receive strengthen you and remind you of your loveliness. 

Many blessings,

Kathy Roy of Spirit Garden

Connect & Share

Please share any comments about the course in the comments below. Make sure to check out what others are posting and encourage each other!