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The Year in Review: My Top 6 Quotes from 2016

One of my favorite New Year’s practices is to spend time flipping through my journal entries from the past year. I love reading through the year’s events and scribbles. Themes emerge, learnings appear, and slowly I get a felt sense of what was meaningful from the past year. It reminds me of what brings me life (family, reading, exercise). And what is truest to me (contemplation, connection, compassion).

This year I was struck by several quotes I jotted down from events I attended or books I read. I thought I’d share them here: my top 2016 quotes whose wisdom I want to bring into the new year.

1. “The solution is not so much new prayer forms and more variety, but rhythm, routine, and established ritual.” In his book Prayer, Ronald Rolheiser reminds us that the key to deepening in God is not the latest spiritual fad, but commitment to a daily practice. Keep it simple. Grasping for the right technique can actually be a delay tactic. The antidote: Find a regular time to turn from oneself and turn to God.

2. “Is the heart open?” During a silent meditation retreat, Buddhist teacher Narayan Lieberson invited us to drop in this question throughout our day of practice. Notice the quality of our heart. If it’s not open, what is encumbering it? Can a gentle internal gaze allow any tightness or over self-preoccupation to loosen? This is a beautiful contemplative practice that is available at every moment, one I hope to cultivate in 2017.

3. “Contemplation is no longer an option...we need to build inner space.” Ilia Delio, OSF reminded her audience at Boston College that in a world addicted to smartphones and social media, the contemplative stance is not a luxury but a necessity to be our full compassionate selves. We need an “involution,” she claimed, and to prioritize reflection and reconnection in silence.

4. "Jesus is the Lord of risk ... not the Lord of comfort, security and ease.“ In his usual prophetic style Pope Francis challenged and inspired the millions of us gathered at World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland to not succumb to “sofa-comfort.” Instead we are invited to muster courage to “set out on new and uncharted paths” and “to leave a mark on history.” Dream big, dear ones.

5. “I think you should focus on one thing.” Wisdom from my partner, Steffano,

to my multitasking, often over-ambitious self. No explanation needed.

6. “Go as deep as you can into life, And you will be able to let go of even blossoms.” This quote from Ryokan was given to me by a sister when I lived in Redwoods Monastery years ago. It always make me sigh deeply. An oldy, but goody it connects me to my ultimate desire to live deeply in God, in life, in all of my relationships. So deeply nothing else matters.

Do you have any quotes that are significant to you from 2016? What words of wisdom from this year do you want to bring into 2017?

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