My word for 2013 was advocate. And I did, mostly about common sense gun reforms. I went to vigils and rallies. I walked the CrossWalk path through the streets of Chicago, ending at Cook County Hospital where so many victims of gun violence are rushed. I met with my Illinois state representative in his local office and at the Capitol building in Springfield, and with my house representative right here in Western Springs. I wrote letters and made calls. I convinced other people to write letters and make calls. I spoke at a gathering of faith leaders who were discerning how to organize their communities, and I wrote about gun violence prevention nearly every month through the #ItIsEnough campaign I co-founded with Ellen Painter Dollar. I prayed: for laws to change, for people to be safe, for the families who have lost loved ones. And I cried.
Advocacy is hard work, and advocacy that more or less fails to fulfill its aim is especially hard. I'm not giving up, but I am going to seek some necessary rest and recovery after a year in which I spent my reserves.
My One Word 365 for 2014 speaks to this, and more. Gentle.
I want to be gentle with myself. I want to be gentle with others. I'm probably not - okay, definitely not - going to stop being idealistic or perfectionistic, but I can at least practice some gentleness in the midst of all that endless striving.
One of the reasons this word calls to me is because gentleness - along with love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control - is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and it means a great deal to me to hew close to the Spirit when setting this intention for the year.
I'm going to go take a bubble bath and drink a cup of chamomile tea now. Seems about right.