b : vividly bright and shining : glowing
2 : marked by or expressive of love, confidence, or happiness
Since 2010, I've chosen (or been given) a word for the year. In 2010, it was change. 2011's word was unfurl. For 2012: radiant. So far, I have seen and experienced these words in ways both anticipated and unanticipated. 2010 definitely brought changes - some I had planned and some that caught me by surprise. And I learned a great deal about unfurling over the course of 2011. The image of an unfurled flag snapping about in the wind scared me off and on throughout the year, but I gradually learned to see the word as also being about a slow opening and revealing of my true self. It's a word of exposure, to be sure, but I learned to trust that there were times when I should be willing to be vulnerable and open and seen. Perhaps that experience is what has made me willing to accept radiant as the word for 2012.
I'm not someone who particularly enjoys attention. While I will share my opinion with you if you want it, I won't force it on you. I don't enter a room and expect - or want - all eyes on me. I'm far more comfortable blending in than standing out. So radiant? That's a bit of a scary word. Things and people that are radiant are noticeable and noteworthy. Is this really a word for me? Yet as I've prayed about it, the word has been clear. And I know it's not a word I would have chosen for myself, so I'm trusting that this could only be a divinely inspired word.
I've felt that radiant was the 2012 word for several weeks now. I've continued to pray (and perhaps even hope) for another word. But radiant is the clear response and I am already noticing things that help me see this word differently. This passage from Amy Carmichael was in a mid-December daily reading in Celtic Daily Prayer:
A pilgrim looked at the reflection of a mountain in still water. It was the reflection that first caught his attention.
But presently he raised his eyes to the mountain. Reflect Me, said his Father to him, then others will look at you. Then they will look up, and see Me. And the stiller the water the more perfect the reflection.
Maybe this passage doesn't immediately call the word radiant to mind for you, but it did for me. I think being radiant - what we radiate - is all about what we take in. If I spend time looking at God, you'll see that when you see me. If I spend time absorbing the things of this world, that's what will radiate from me - from my countenance, my thoughts, my words. What I radiate is, in large part, about where I fix my gaze.
This is one reason I've decided to deactivate my Facebook account. I spend far too much time reading about what's going on in the lives of my friends instead of living my own life. I'm a bit sad about this decision, even while I feel it's the right thing. Facebook has been a great way for me to reconnect with friends from high school, college and other parts of my life. But I have a feeling that simplifying my life and limiting the things that take my time and attention will be key to being radiant in a way that is expressive of love, confidence and happiness.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word radiant? My strongest mental image is of how it feels to have my face warmed in the sun. I think of the benediction "May God's face shine upon you..."
That's what I want for 2012: to stand with my hands open and my face upturned, receiving what God offers and offering that back to others.