Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

At onement — a word I can live with!


I don’t like the word. I want to push it away, avoid it, find another one.

But it persists. It clings. It keeps whispering to me to claim it, accept it, know it.

I may have to live with it for a year to find my way through it.

It’s what it wants, this word that causes such disquiet within me. It wants me to know it, breathe into it, live it and find my truth within it.

It happens every December.

I begin to meditate on that space where a word for the upcoming year arises within me. This year it has been Rejoice. The year before Renew. And before that, Humility.

Every year for the past three years I have held a word in my heart and mediated, written, discerned and breathed into its essence for an entire year. I don’t choose the word so much as it chooses me. It arises in the quiet and speaks softly to my heart as it says with measured certitude, “Embrace me. I am yours.”

In the past, the word has settled in and I embraced it and began my year in conscious contemplation of what it means for me to live the essence of its being present in my life.

This word. Ah now this word causes me to pause, to resist, to wonder if maybe I should use the entire 31 days of December to allow space for another word to enter. Maybe if I just keep seeking, something different will appear.

And I sigh. A sigh of amusement and bemusement.

The co-creative powers of the universe are not to be messed with. We’re in this life together. I don’t get to pick and choose what the universe serves up. I do get to choose how I accept, move through, embrace, celebrate, wonder about and create from what it delivers.

And this word definitely gives me pause to wonder.

‘Atonement’ is not a word that settles easily on my heart. It has such Biblical tomes to it. Some real heavy-duty righteousness. I’m not even sure I really know what it means so of course, I toddle on over to my online dictionary and there it is. My trepidations over its meaning expressed in the definition I find for ‘atonement’.  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/atonement

atonement [əˈtəʊnmənt]


1. satisfaction, reparation, or expiation given for an injury or wrong

2. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) (often capital) Christian theol

a.  the reconciliation of man with God through the life, sufferings, and sacrificial death of Christ
b.  the sufferings and death of Christ
3. (Christian Religious Writings / Theology) Christian Science the state in which the attributes of God are exemplified in man
4. Obsolete reconciliation or agreement

It is steeped in Christianity. It is fraught with sacrifice and suffering.

Is the universe playing a trick on me?And then I spy the phrase at the end of the defintion. It’s just one little sentence, but man, does it make me sit up and take note. Maybe this is why the word appeared for me. Maybe the universe is on my side, creating with me a life of beauty and love.

The phrase, in love square brackets reads  — [from Middle English phrase at onement in harmony]

At onement. In Harmony.

I like that. I can live with its meaning.

Where am I not at onement within my world, within my heart, within my life? Where does harmony escape me, evade me? Where do I deny it?

Okay. This is sounding better and better.

But wait!

First, I need to complete my year of rejoicing. First I must ensure the essence of its beauty and power have settled into my heart, expanding out in ever widening ripples of joy and contentment.

First, I must finish what I started before moving into the new year.

Like the blizzard that the forecasters have been predicting would appear all weekend and is just starting to make its presence known now, the task is not to leap into my new word based on its promised appearance. The task is to use this month to prepare myself to let go of what was so that I am ready, willing and open to accepting what is to be when the day arrives that I step into a new year free of encumbrances that would hold me back from accepting the truth.

The weather outside is turning frightful. No matter how hard I wished it wouldn’t arrive, the blizzard is blowing in. Time to bundle up and face the storm.

A word has arisen in my heart, calling me to embrace it. No matter how hard I wish it would go away and become something else, it’s time to open up and prepare myself for its advent.

I do kinda think I might work with at onement though… You know, go back in time. Get all historical and melancholy with the past, find my truth in the old and all that jazz …

Just sayin’. Maybe I wasn’t hearing properly when it first arrived in my heart…<


Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe we each have the capacity to be the change we want to see in the world, to make a world of difference. I believe we are creative beings on the journey of our lifetimes. It's up to each of us to Live It Up and SHINE!

20 thoughts on “At onement — a word I can live with!

  1. LG,

    I suggest, if you are choosing, you might want to do a year of ONEMENT as opposed to a year of ATONEMENT. Jews have been doing Yom Kippur for a very long time – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yom_Kippur – and I am sure that many can attest that ‘one day a year’ is a lot.

    Whatever WORD you choose, I wish you well with it – and thanks for enlightening your fans with your process. I like it. Not sure I could do the meditation thing, but that singular focus is something that has merit methinks.

    Happy blizzard day,



  2. Another timely post for me to reread and reread again. I have been in a funk lately. Seems as if it happens after I get a good visit with my daughter and then she has to leave to live her own adult life.
    I need to embrace my own life and be grateful that I have given her the foundation to go and live in Onement herself.
    I never thought that I’d ever really be so shaken by growing older.
    In one way I know fully who I am and in other moments I feel a stranger is looking back at me in that mirror.
    Well, she is!!!!!!


    • I often feel that way too Di after Alexis visits and then leaves. My heart misses her.

      And, as you said, knowing and being grateful for the fact we’ve given our daughters that foundation to live in Onement is powerful. Thank you!

      LOL re the stranger. It’s always you. Just different perspectives… 🙂 Hugs


  3. Think of “onement” as being reconciled, of uniting the differences that make up the whole of you.

    The Color Field painter Barnett Newman used “Onement” for a series of six paintings, the last selling at auction for nearly $44 million. The MoMA in NYC has Newman’s “Onement, I”, so titled, apparently, because the red strip down the middle both divides and unites the composition.


  4. I’ve always thought atonement was a beautiful word, but until today it always sounded melancholy to me. Thanks to you, I’m seeing it in a new way. The final definition in my American Heritage Dictionary also suggests the meaning, “concord.” Concord has such synonyms as: agreement, harmony, consensus, and unity. Looks like you’re onto something powerful.


  5. I just adore your blog! Every time I visit I come back with a gift and this post was no exception. xoxo


    • Thank you Yvonne — I feel the same about yours. I don’t have as much time these days to visit daily — and that makes me feel sad as I write it as I love visiting your place — a commitment I’ve made for 2014 is to take time to stay connected to people and places that inspire and nurture me — and your blog does just that! Happy New Year my friend! Blessings and love.


  6. I like your descriptive heading that splits atonement into its two parts. What a difference that little word ‘at’ can make.
    I personally prefer the word you mention that goes with the definition ie: “harmony”.
    Harmony (to me) encompasses atonement but centres on today; whereas atonement focuses on making peace with the past. Although the latter is important (for today’s peace); harmony is a virtuous attitude to embrace for completeness and a way of living for today and planning for tomorrow.


    • Funny how I miss comments — in the busy=ness of December I didn’t go back to see all my comments! And here are your gems waiting for me to discover. Thank you Elizabeth — I love the idea of ‘harmony’ embodied in At Onement. Lovely!


  7. Pingback: I begin again: Happy New Year! | A Year of Rejoicing -- Welcome!

  8. I reread this one today after reading your demo grant post. And re-liked it in my head. It bothered me that I didn’t step out of my comfort zone and say “it” when I read this before. I guess cuz it’s your blog. Not mine. And I feel as if a guest in your house shouldn’t come in and readjust the pillows on your sofa to their liking. I mean adjust your own pillows on your own sofa. Lol. But your comment about too Biblical made me want to say it’s not a bad thing. And I think you wear it well. More and more. Just think about it. And I only say this cuz this is a past post so mostly just you and I will ever read this cuz unfortunately our readers don’t wander around in our older posts. But I love you and felt that I was nudged to say it twice. So did. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Di, Thank you. I love you too and really appreciate both your coming back to say it twice, and for adjusting the pillows to fit both of us! 3>

      I still have the painting of At Onement on my living room wall — I think about replacing it but it still calls to me so I keep it there. It is a lovely reminder to be open and aware and non-judgemental and loving and kind.

      Just like you.

      Much love my dear friend. Hugs and love. ❤

      PS — I think we should plan a visit somehow! to meet in person would be amazing! maybe take an art course somewhere together…. just sayin'… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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