I’ve always been drawn to rituals, especially at the beginning of a new year, and last year was no exception. Having moved to a new town and trying to reestablish myself into the community, I found myself questioning if I had made a wise choice in uprooting when I did. The move affected just about all aspects of my life: my career, my Familiars, my relationships, and the day-to-day routine that I had gotten so accustomed to. I certainly appreciated the change and all the excitement the move brought, because it gave me an opportunity to revisit whether I was “on path” or not. I had promised myself to “travel lightly” in keeping with the Buddhist principle of impermanence, yet I failed miserable at that promise, dragging all manner of personal belongings, artifacts and baggages – literally & figuratively – with me on this present move. The awareness was shockingly overwhelming, and I kinda had a mini Spiritual meltdown.
Thus, New Year’s Day 2017 found me in the 3rd row from the back at a Unity Church in my new neighborhood. I wanted to spend New Year’s morning in church in reflection as I usually do, and was intrigued by the premise behind the sermon that was planned for that day. The ad read: “White Stone Ceremony” and I was sold with the promise of learning my new name. I recalled the highlight of my 50th birthday - my Croning Ceremony, during which I had to meet in counsel with my Spiritual Mother and was given my Spirit name of Sanän Nariah Shafâth: ‘Beloved One, Healer & Curer of All People’ (in the mundane world, you know me as Audrey). The years that followed found me doing my very best to live up to the fullest potential of the magnitude and responsibilities of that name. Somewhere along the way though, I grew tired, discouraged and alone, as much of what was familiar disintegrated around me, and eventually drifted away. I had to learn the hard way that ‘some people may be a part of our history, but not necessarily a part of our destiny’ (Dr. Steve Maraboli). The timeliness of the New Year’s sermon couldn’t have been more perfect. I write about it now, on the anniversary of that day, having had all year to think on the significance the White Stone Ceremony of 2017 had on me.
The story behind the White Stone goes back centuries ago when Greek and Roman slaves were given a white stone on the day they were freed. On that day they were also given a new name, and on that white stone was written their new name as well as the date that they obtained their freedom. How fitting that on the start of a new year, that we - in present day times - would honor such tradition, in keeping with our new year’s goals, resolutions and promises to wipe the slate clean and start a new life. Our Minister took this one step further though. They had been studying about the 12 spiritual capacities as written by Charles (Unity founder) & Cora Fillmore in “The Twelve Powers”. In this book, the Fillmores described 12 “powers” or characteristics that God gives us to help us in our spiritual growth. After a guided meditation, a basket was passed around filled with white stones on which were inscribed 1 of the 12 virtues, and we were asked to allow Spirit to gift us with *THE* stone/virtue we needed to focus on for the upcoming year. *Rather than listing them all here, the reader is invited to refer to the book for more information on all 12 virtues.
Suffice to say, I pulled “IMAGINATION” as my new virtue/principle to work on for 2017. Honestly, I was disappointed. I had listened intently to the description of the virtues as they were presented during the sermon, and thought for sure Spirit would gift me with the one with which I felt I most resonated. Trust me, Imagination was NOT one of them! I mean, I know I have a pretty good imagination. I’m a damn good Imaginer (if there is such a word). I know how imagination serves me: It inspires me to dream, to be different & unique, to march to the beat of my own drum, to create, to write, to travel, to connect, to get through, to survive. I tried not to judge my stone with the “name” of my new virtue, but I wasn’t happy with it. I had to sit with it – which was the intent - for the entire year to see how it applied in my life, and how I could use this principle to help me live up to my highest potential. Truth be told, if I had to do it all over again, I would ask Spirit to show me 1 virtue each month for every month of the year, so that at the end of the year, I would have had a chance to try to live up to the spiritual growth lessons of each of the 12 principles.
As for my new 2017 virtue, my Imagination stone name sat visibly in a corner on top of my kitchen stove (I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, imagining & creating meals :-). Every day it inspired me to think about how I could walk my spiritual path with it as my guiding principle. Imagination tells us to put ourselves in the other person’s shoes. Imagine “what would Jesus do?” Imagine-a-nation (‘imagination’, get it?) with 1 goal, 1 people, a New World. Imagine & dream big! Create your vision board & design your perfect life. It was not all pleasant I assure you, for as much as Imagination inspires us to live in the world of possibilities, hope and optimism, She has her Shadow side as well: a side that takes us down dark paths of mistrust, fear, anger, suspicion, unworthiness, and invisible conversations with our Selves (monkey mind, mindless chatter, or the stories we tell our Selves). I am so grateful for having had the opportunity to work with the virtue of Imagination this past year, and yes – the learning continues. I am doing a little better I think with reigning in on Imagination when She has gone too far astray, yet still be able to allow Her to roam free when situations call for this to be so.
The start of this new year, 2018, threw us a curve ball though. I bounded off to church on New Year’s Day, excited to see which of the 12 Virtues I would be gifted by Spirit. The Universe of course has a great sense of humor and likes to shake things up a bit. Instead of a white stone with a particular virtue inscribed on it, we each pulled a plain, blank, white stone on which was written: NOTHING!......I sighed. I had thought for sure I would pick 1 specific, 1 very particular one. But oh no; the stone was blank. Ok Lord, show me the way to go. And so again we went into meditation, and then it came. My new ‘name’/virtue/principle, when it finally came to me, was not what I expected or had even hoped to see, and yet I was not surprised. And so on January 1st, 2018 I accepted my white stone with its new ‘name’ with grace, an open heart, and a promise to let this new year lead me in ways that I may live up to the commitment of walking my Spiritual path – in accordance as it is written. (And I promise when next year rolls around, I will let you know what this name was :-). You are called by name to be who you are; who are you called to be?
Audrey Steele, L.Ac