Ring Out the Old

Year End Examen

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
   Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
   The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
   For those that here we see no more;
   Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
   And ancient forms of party strife;
   Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
   The faithless coldness of the times;
   Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
   The civic slander and the spite;
   Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
   Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
   Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
   The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
   Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

In Memoriam, [Ring out, wild bells]
Alfred, Lord Tennyson – 1809-1892

Ringing church bells on New Year’s Eve is the backdrop to Alfred Tennyson’s poem, which is a tribute to his close friend who died suddenly at age 22. Tennyson is ready to put an end to the year and the “grief that saps the mind.” Everything that Tennyson sees wrong with the coldness of his times: injustice, disease, greed, and war, he hopes will be rung out and let go. With the ringing of the bells, his prayer, his hope is that the New Year will ring in courageous people with big hearts who are kind, compassionate, and peaceful, those living as Christ would have us to be.

As you take a reflective look back into the year past, what would you like to let go of? ” Ring out the want, the care, the sin, the faithless coldness of our times.”

PRACTICE. An annual or year end Examen is a spiritual practice of reflection with gratitude for the past year as well as looking forward with hope into the New Year. Leadership Transformations invites you to grab your journal and settle into a quiet space and use their Year End Examen, a simple 2 page PDF, aimed at helping you review the year 2022. It is beautifully done, inviting, and easy to use.

Another tool called The Great Annual Examen, is offered by Stephen W. Smith. This one takes more time, but offers questions to review your health, relationships, emotions, work and spiritual life. The questions guide you to process the events, experiences, joys and sadness of the year by letting go and leaning into gratitude.

For years I have gone through the Annual Examen with a group of soul friends. It is a great way to encourage our shared humanity with accountability and love.

A few of the questions:

  • What are the most important events that have happened to me this past year?
  • Where have I most experienced the presence of God, and why?
  • List the people who have been life-giving this past year.
  • What are feelings (positive or negative) that I believe have dominated my year?

  Click on the link to order for a nominal price. It’s also included in Stephen W. Smith’s new book, “30 Days with the Potter.

Great Annual Examen

So this is Ringing Out the Old.

Next blog will be: Ringing In the New featuring a Spiritual Practice called “The Rule of Life.”

As always, I’m available for spiritual direction and friendship. robbijames@gmail.com

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