You know how some people don’t
name the baby for a few days
because they want to discover the personality?
That’s how I’ve felt about my word for 2018.
Here we are ten days into the New Year
and I’m just now choosing my word.
Many of my favorite writers and artists have chosen excellent words for the year like justice, rise and voice and I’ve liked the sounds of all of them, but for some reason, I couldn’t find the right word for myself.
As I was lying awake last night in the darkness, I thought of how I used to be afraid of the dark and slept with a flashlight beside my pillow even as an adult. Then one day I discovered I was a grownup and I had the power to turn on the lights. As I matured, I realized no one can take away the true light—not even the darkness. The powers of darkness disappear at the slightest flicker of light and there is no more darkness once the sun comes up. That’s why I love this verse in Peterson’s Message Bible:
Then I said to myself,
“Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
night and day, darkness and light,
they’re all the same to you.
As I was thinking about the light and all the metaphors for it, I wondered if maybe my word for the year should be light. Last year it seems the world became darker than ever in some ways. I thought of the people in Puerto Rico who had most of their light blown out by a hurricane. And of the numbers of DACA kids who feel their hope is being slowly snuffed out. I thought of so many people who have been trying to just survive while running from violence, fires, and storms.
Lately, it seems we’ve been on the verge of a great storm that might plunge all of us into a deeper darkness than many of us have seen in our lifetime. Does science no longer matter? Will our national lands be destroyed instead of preserving them? Will fascism overtake democracy? Will our religious freedom be threatened at the whims of people who push their own false god agendas? Will people be blacklisted and shut out due to gender, color, and orientation?
While I considered developments from the news in 2017, I was keenly aware of the ever constant threat of fake news. It seems we might be on the verge of another dark age and we need the light now more than ever, but then I realized we’ve had light for some time and perhaps we already have the light we need to fight the darkness. No one can stop the sun from shining even after the darkest night. The light appears for all who will open their eyes—we just need to reclaim it. Or maybe what we really need is the will to reclaim what has been threatened before it’s entirely lost. And that’s when I found my word for 2018—RECLAIM.
If you, like me, have suffered losses in your life from narcissistic family, toxic religion and struggling health, this is the year to reclaim what’s been lost. No, I don’t mean to reclaim the narcissist, flying monkeys or the false prophets of Religious Narcia. Don’t waste more time chasing after false and toxic relationships. Let them go and reclaim your heart, your time and your life. Fill it with hope and dedication to the causes and people you love.
I’m also not suggesting we all try to reclaim the bodies we had at twenty-one, but we can reclaim greater awareness of our bodies and clarity about our choices. I’m not saying to throw out all religion, but certainly, we should get rid of all toxic religious practices.
Sometimes we need to lose a few things to make room for the light. We are staring at a brand new, open calendar, let’s not fill it with old and broken patterns. Throw off your fear of failure and reclaim the thrill of possibility.
Throw off the apathy and derision of narcissistic people and reclaim what it is to be an empathetic neighbor.
Throw off the ignorance of false information and reclaim the opportunity to listen to scientific minds.
Throw off the shackles of partisan egos and labels and reclaim the right to peaceful assembly with the like-minded resistance.
Throw off the expectations and judgments of false Christians and reclaim what it means to be a child of God.
Reclaim, reclaim, reclaim.
It’s time to reclaim our choices from the people who tried to control us.
It’s time to reclaim our values from the people who have misrepresented us.
It’s time to reclaim our faith from the people who have misrepresented God to us.
It’s time to reclaim our voices from those who tried to shut us up.
It’s time to reclaim the neighborhood from those who would like to destroy it.
It’s time to reclaim what the storms and locusts have stolen.
It’s time to reclaim what it’s like to be a creative child building new forts, spinning great stories and drawing masterpieces.
It’s time to reclaim the progress we’ve already made and hang on to it with hope, faith, and love.
Reclaim, reclaim, reclaim.
RECLAIM! Soak up the meaning and spread the word.
It’s time to reclaim our freedom. We are extravagantly free and we can join in community and help each other to reclaim our freedoms.
It’s time to reclaim the legacy given to us by Martin Luther King Jr. who paid for the light with peaceful protests and sacrificed with his own blood.
It’s time to reclaim the rights and freedom of all human beings to be treated worthy of love and belonging and equality. Once this light has been switched on, no matter how many try to dim it, the darkness can never overtake it.
Reclaim, reclaim, reclaim.
Reclaim the joy of living and loving life.
Here’s to a grand reclaiming in 2018!