Here we go, OneWord365. I know I’m a little late on the whole New Year’s blog beginnings and all, but I figure the internet was a tad bit packed with them at the beginning of January so why not throw one in now … it clearly had nothing to do with my procrastination tendencies.
Anywho OneWord365, in case you haven’t heard what this cool idea is, you should most definitely check out oneword365.org, but here’s a brief run down. Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, which let’s be honest, most of us never keep (some of us never even remember what they were in the first place!), this idea is to choose one word to focus on for the year.
Now for type A people (which I sorta kinda fit into, another topic for another day) who like to do lists, which New Year’s resolutions can lend themselves to quite handily, this one word thing can be daunting. What does it mean to focus on one word? How can one word possibly encompass change for a whole year? How do you even pick just one word? All these questions went through my head when I first heard of this concept. Then I started really thinking about it. Thinking about how I’ve never in my life ever kept, nor even remembered any of my New Year’s Resolutions — so there’s no harm in not making one of those. More recently though, I’ve been finding myself fascinated with particular words; what they mean, how their translated, and how they can mean much more than their face value. So with that, I’ve taken the leap.
So my word, is … (drumroll please) …. Metanoia. And the collective “Huh?” response. It’s a weird one I’ll admit, but one that has resonated with me so deeply this past season in my life. A little background for you folks though.
Metanoia, is a greek word used in the New Testament. Most often it is translated as “repent.” (and now you all think I must have done something real bad that I need to be forgiven for … spoilers … we all have, but that’s not the point here, nor the point of the word for that matter) It’s most often translated this way, however, it loses so much of it’s initial meaning when we do.
I first heard this word in my Religion 212 class at Pacific Lutheran University. It was just supposed to be an easy, required class — a low level, overview of Christian Traditions. I grew up in the Church, so I get it … easy and potentially REALLY boring, especially at 8:00am. My professor however, Dr. Hickey-Tiernan, planned a course that was anything but that. A former Pastor, Dr. Hickey-Tiernan had a beautiful way of teaching an academic religion class with a background of faith. He approached the topic of Christianity with an academic understanding that some things get translated funky, and cultural context can sometimes mean everything!
Dr. Hickey-Tiernan first brought up the word Metanoia when we were going through the Gospels, and reading through the story of how Jesus took fisherman and made them fishers of men, thus producing this idea of Metanoia. Metanoia is having a complete life change, even more so, completely restructuring the way you perceive the world and how you fit in it; from being a fisherman to becoming a fisher of men.
Get it? I know it’s confusing, I’ll keep going through it in months to come. For now know the definition starts with a complete re-thinking of the world around you. For me this means re-thinking how I fit in the world, and how God sees the world, and me in it.