BY BRENNA DAVIS | January 9, 2023
Personally, I am a bit cynical about self-improvement around the start of the year and the practice of generating resolutions that will soon be forgotten. Which is why I surprised myself by choosing a word of the year. On the long drive back from a holiday visit with family, I pondered about a focus for the year ahead. Many words came to mind: rhythm, cultivate, simplify, but nothing felt right. I took out my journal to get ideas onto paper, and what emerged through the process of writing, in the last line, in fact, was the word emergence.
- the process of coming into view or becoming known after being concealed
- the escape of an insect or other invertebrate from an egg, cocoon, or pupal case
- botany: an outgrowth from a stem of leaf… as the prickles on a thistle plant
- the process of coming into being
The ecological meanings spoke to me, especially the image of a caterpillar emerging from a cocoon completely transformed after a period of darkness. The idea that coming into being is a never-ending process that moves at a painfully slow pace sometimes is a comfort to me at this time. It means that now is the ever-present moment to begin again. The way the word emerged through the process of journaling about it was a reminder that new life is always possible in me if I make space for it to grow.
However, when I saw the word origin, I knew that this was the word abiding in my heart.
Latin: emergere– “bring light to.”
In the Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius writes about the need to “bring light to” anything in our lives, such as disordered attachments, that are preventing us from being the freest to love and to serve God. By doing this in our own lives, we are participating in the constant co-creation of the world with God by constantly coming into being as our most authentic selves.
On this Epiphany, we are invited to delight in the starlight that led the magi to Jesus and to celebrate the “coming into being” of God that broke into the world.
How are you being invited to “bring light to” your own life and the world? What is emerging in you during this season?
Brenna Davis is director of Education for Justice and environmental initiatives for the Ignatian Solidarity Network. She graduated from Boston College in 2010 and served in Cleveland as a Jesuit Volunteer. She previously taught theology, coached cross country, and served as main office coordinator at Saint Martin de Porres, Cleveland’s Cristo Rey High School. During her time there she was the self-proclaimed assistant to the director of facilities in all sustainability initiatives on campus. She is a certified spiritual director and a Cuyahoga County Master Recycler.
Thank you for this insightful message. Emergence, what a wonderful way to capture and express the never-ending nurturance of our true selves. It really spoke to me as I have recently moved across the country to the Sonoran Desert in AZ, a truly unique ecosystem. I have been called here for a role I do not yet know, perhaps working with immigrants at the border, perhaps participating in LSAP in this area or bringing it to a parish not currently involved in it. But, for now, I know that I have been brought here to just be still, to take this part of creation in, to give thanks, and to contemplate the jaw-dropping grandeur of this place. What will emerge from this, I do not yet know and that is ok.
Having trained as a botanist before theology, I can identify with the term emergence. I see myself as a gardener who sows seeds and it is my job to cultivate them as Christ would. To help empower young teens to know who they really are and let the light of Christ emerge and shine through them out into the world. It is a privilege to be at the beginning of their journey into the adult world of the 21st century.
Incredible and faith filled guys. The Magi from the East continue to inspire searchers and researchers from the East, West, North and South. May their tribe increase.