I can’t stand it when Hallowe’en gets preempted by Thanksgiving, or worse, as is more often the case, by Christmas. Hate it. It just makes me crazy. I love Hallowe’en/Samhain and the whole season of the dead, and it deserves its own time.
If you’ve been reading my blog for the last couple of weeks, you’ve seen that I pay a lot of attention to my—and other people’s—ancestors. But that is not my point here.
My point is that, in general, I think it’s important to be where one is. In the season, with the holiday, on the day where one is.
November and December, though, I find it important to consider the past year and to do some dreaming and scheming for the year coming.
As part of the review of my year past, I consider the big life choices I made. How did I make them? Was I mindful of my deepest values? Did I make the decisions deliberately, with a sense of freedom, or was I acting out of fear?
These questions are ones of discernment. The ability to make wise choices, to sift through alternatives, to stay present in the moment even as one is planning, and to keep one’s deepest values front and center throughout the process of choosing…these are the purview of discernment.
I’m going to be writing a lot about discernment in the coming month or two. I think practicing the arts of discernment is essential for anyone who does goal-setting, dreaming and scheming, or yearly planning. And not only for looking ahead, but also for going back and considering our choices of the year past.
Where did I get all this discernment stuff?
I first learned about discernment as a structured process and “virtue” from the Sisters of St. Joseph, a congregation of Roman Catholic religious sisters. I’ll almost certainly be writing more about them, as well, as the month progresses.
I’ve also had the benefit of Quaker discernment and group process. Uh. May. Zing. (For more information about the “clearness committee” and Quaker process, read the excellent Parker Palmer.)
Pagan methods, like divination, have helped me immensely.
And finally, secular and creative methods of discernment have rounded out my experience with intentional, structured planning, decision-making, and the dreaming and scheming that has been so much a part of what birthed The Way of the River.
What’s coming up?
So this month, look for some discussion about why discernment is such an important concept for me and how I think it can be helpful to just about anyone.
One thing to consider, if you haven’t already, is signing up for my newsletter, Reflections. Simply follow that link to the home page, and sign up on the right. Reflections is going to have some more in-depth writing on discernment over the next few weeks, including practical suggestions for you. Again, just got to the home page and sign up there.
I’m also hosting a free discernment call—a full-length class on methods of decision-making and wise choices—on December 4, 2014 at 5:00 pm. I’d love to see you there. As this month progresses, I’ll let you know more about the call: What it will entail, what you can expect to take away, and why you should spend your valuable time with me that evening.
In the meantime, I encourage you to consider your own processes of decision making What has worked well for you? What not so well?
What has had good effects, and what has led you places you really wish you hadn’t gone?
I look forward to hearing more about your process as we go forward.
Blessings on you and on your house