Seven Words for Reflection

Reflections on a Bridge (2011)

In reviewing my journals at the end of the year (for me, the end of the liturgical year), I noted how often specific words inspire me. I would like to share them with you. May they be a source of wonder for you.


Finding something funny; something that causes laughter or provides entertainment. I know that life is serious, but I realized this year that I don’t laugh as much as I used to. And I miss that. There were two memorable occasions this year when I found myself laughing out loud for an extended period of time: with new friends in Bogotà and with co-workers at our annual Christmas party.


The quality of being noticeably happy and optimistic. I am a pretty happy and optimistic person, but I’m not sure others always see that. I have added “cheerfulness” to my commitments for the coming year. I want to be deliberate about letting people see my optimism. I guess that means “No whining!”


Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation. I don’t function well in situations of “high drama” and conflict. Unfortunately, there is altogether too much all around us. For most of the year, I have had to avoid television news for the sake of my mental calmness. I pray the day comes when there are clearer separations of news, drama, and entertainment.


The quality of being large in quantity or degree. As an adjective, lavish means profuse, prodigal, superabundant. Is this not a description of God’s love for us and for all of creation?

Liminal spaces

Waiting areas between one point in time and space and the next; the feeling of just being on the verge of something. Liminal spaces are often uncomfortable places to be, but I have come to appreciate the grace of simply waiting. Too often we rush to make decisions so that we can move to the next task, relationship, location, etc. We sometimes sense that others are impatient with us for resting in a liminal space.

Missional living

The adoption of the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the Gospel message. This word comes from Anthony J. Gittins, CSSp in his book, Courage and Conviction: Unpretentious Christianity (Liturgical Press, 2018) – one of my favorites this year. It will be the basis of a program that I will present at my church in January.


Firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition. I posted a reflection on persistence on this blog a while ago. Persistence remains an important quality in my life. I learned early on that natural intelligence is not enough to reach a goal. Persistence takes you to the finish line.

Q. Do any of these words resonate with you?

Q. What words do you recommend for reflection?


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