2017: Looking Forward: A Matter Of Perception

 20170102Well, what a year 2016 was! I’m guessing for some people it was a good year, for some a not-so-good year, and for some, maybe the majority, it was a year of mixed fortunes and views. How was it for you?

For me, I was surprised (and I’m not saying ‘pleasantly’ or ‘unpleasantly’ surprised) by major votes on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. This year, for me, also saw the ‘passing on’ of a dear friend who had only just reach his early forties, of a couple of family members enduring declining health, and a number of other seemingly negative things. However, globally lots of good things happened, and locally and in my circle of family and friends, too, lots of good things happened: someone moved to a better house, anniversaries were celebrated, someone got promotion for all the hard work they had put in, and you and I are here!

How we view the last year, and more importantly how we view, in expectancy, the new year ahead of us will depend on what we’re looking for. Perception matters!

‘…seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.’ Matthew 7:7b, The Book

Something to think upon: If we’re looking for negative things, that’s what we’ll see. If we’re looking forward with positivity, hope and an air or awesome mystery, that’s what we’ll see. We find what we’re looking for. Perception really does matters!

You know I’m going to encourage you to undertake the latter, and remind myself daily to do the same – to look forward with hope, and to give gratitude for the major and minor things that happen.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


Something to do: So, as an offshoot to this, how about making a ‘gratitude jar’?

A gratitude jar is simply a jar that stores all the things that you’re grateful for. They can be major things; they can be mundane (whatever that means) or simple things. Each day, at the end of the day you review the day and write one thing that you’re grateful for, on a piece of paper and pop it into the jar. By the end of this year you’ll have hundreds of pieces of paper to read, to lift you up and encourage you further. Ofcourse, you can decorate the jar if you’re artistically inclined. And some people put in photographs or theatre ticket stubs to remind themselves etc. And some, even use (sometimes) small pebbles with a word written on them – but you’ll probably need a big jar for this.

Can you list a few things, now, that you’re grateful for and which happened in the last year? Can you also list a few good things that you’d like to see happen in 2017, and which you can work towards?

For me…in looking forward, 2017 will be a year of change, and good changes at that. For instance, I’m intending to change the frequent jaunts between north Wales and London – I’ve been doing that for so long – and it will mean selling a house (and maybe relocating). I see this as a positive move, something to look forward to, and a challenge that will open a new chapter in my life. There’s no rush, but the thought-process has started.

But there’s more.

Some of you will know that for two decades (oh, actually twenty-two years) I’ve been (legally) part of a ‘large theological institution’ in a clerical (NSM) capacity and have worked within that framework (in working with disabled people, the homeless, those on probation etc, as well as other and ceremonial duties) and had a fair amount of ‘space’ to undertake Celtic and Druidic research and ceremonies etc. I’m grateful for that, and have had a great time. But, it’s time for a change. Although things could stay the same for some time to come, it seems to me that a new ‘season’ approaches. I’ll keep an associate membership with that institution, and will still be doing some of the ceremonial events for it, but this year sees me involved in, say, a ‘freelance’ practice, and I’m looking forward to that as it unfolds in unforeseen, challenging and interesting ways.

The above-mentioned will allow even more time to devote to one-to-one work, to the ‘opening’ of a new website (mentioned some weeks ago, somewhat delayed by a few weeks, but due midmonth), and more time to work (with others) as regards liturgy, ritual, ceremony of a Celtic, Christian and Druidic nature – all of which I consider so important and necessary. And, something I am definitely looking forward to doing more of. It’s exciting.

Part of the reason for mentioning these personal examples is to reinforce the idea that to some these could be negatives, but to me they’re positives. Perception matters!

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

(Mary Oliver)

And, there’s more! Part of the reason for mentioning those personal examples, is to ask about you.

What are you looking forward to? What good things are you planning, and what challenges might present themselves that you can turn around, or even (just) perceive in a positive light and make into positive (actually or learning) events? Perhaps, that’s the real meaning of being an alchemist?

So, what are you looking forward to, in 2017?

4 thoughts on “2017: Looking Forward: A Matter Of Perception

  1. thank you tadhg for this, lots of content to mull over, lots of change planned in your life (all sounds intriguing – wish we lived near enough to meet! i’d really enjoy a coffee with you!). will you be basing yourself in wales or london, or is this still up in the air?

    and i enjoyed ‘the guest house’ – one of my favourite ‘practical’ poems (altho most poems are practical, aren’t they?) and much used by mindfulness teachers.

    keep us up to date through your blog, and a very happy new year to you. *annie* *northumberland*

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful and thought-provoking post! I am focusing on being mindful in this new year, with a heaping dose of gratitude. I love the idea of the gratitude jar. I don’t know what the future holds but I am learning to be okay with trusting the path. Many blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m pleased you liked it. I love gratitude jars – a momento or a word or phrase to sum up at least one good thing a day, and then I open it up in the gap between Christmas and the New Year to remind myself of all the good things and to really give thanks!


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