The 52nd Week


Izzie and Bear
Izzie and Bear

I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It has always stood out from the other 51 weeks in a year like a peaceful Zen garden, a special oasis where I attend to soul needs that require annual closure.

During the 80’s when I was juggling parenting with college teaching, I often spent this week assembling and basting together sandwiched layers of fabric backing, cotton batting, and the quilt tops I’d been working on all year. It took another year of hand-quilting everything together before I presented them to my children the next Christmas. After they each had a quilt of their own I used the last week of the year to start more quilts for our new mountain cabin. When these were finished we took them with us for our annual years’-end visit.

On the outside the 80’s were for me a time of perfecting and preserving my persona and the collective values of the times in which I was raised. But on the inside I felt I’d been shipwrecked and was living on my own private, isolated island. There I spent most of my time fishing in the watery depths of my psyche for psychological sustenance that could help me understand myself and resolve my inner conflicts.

Then, in the fall of 1989 I found what I was looking for:  I joined a Centerpoint group based on Jungian psychology, and suddenly the lights came on! I don’t remember what I did during the 52nd week that year but I’m pretty sure I would have spent most of it reading, studying and underlining one of the 20 or so books by Jungian analysts I had immediately ordered from Inner City Publishers.  Intense study was the first of the practices I undertook that made the year of 1990 a threshold into the most life-changing, soul-satisfying and creative period of my life.

My other main practice was recording and studying my dreams. Throughout the nineties I did dreamwork every morning and wrote every afternoon. I also meditated and practiced yoga. But I always devoted the 52nd week of each year to rereading my dream journals, summarizing important themes and trends, noting new developments, and highlighting valuable insights. Remembering and integrating my soul’s processes at the end of every year was an extremely valuable ritual for me in those days. Essentially I was building a new foundation for my psyche and I could feel it growing stronger with each passing year. This was my decade of finding, connecting with, and honoring the unconscious and the Self.

The new millennium brought new insights and year’s-end rituals.  Feeling an unprecedented need to get in touch with my body and nature, I usually spent the 52nd week hiking and climbing the mountains near our cabin.  As my grandchildren began arriving, they and their parents would join us;  we’d also play games and enjoy lots of physical, outdoor, non-cerebral fun like sledding, making snow angels, and building snowmen!

Once again it’s my favorite week of the year. This year Fred and I brought Izzie—our grand-dog who’s a female version of her predecessor, Bear—with us to the cabin. One of my favorite things so far has been to take a long daily hike around the property with her.  Another was to prepare a welcome meal of chili, salad, homemade biscuits, and key lime pie for my son’s family who joined us a few nights ago.

So far, the only theme I see emerging during this decade is to listen and follow the guidance of my instincts and energy.  I don’t feel much need for closure any more—annual or otherwise—and the days of making special preparations for the 52nd week are long gone. In fact, I rarely do much of that any other time of the year either.  Mostly I just like staying present with myself, my family, and the moment and its opportunities.

Above all, I’ve been spending a lot of time savoring the many blessings of my life.  Believe me, I’ve had more than my share and I’ve never felt more grateful for them. Right now, that’s enough for me. Whatever the new year may bring, I welcome it with open arms.

May the new year bring you renewed awareness and gratitude for the special times of your one, precious life.

If you’re interested in hearing more about my introduction to Jungian psychology, you might enjoy this radio interview I did for the Centerpoint Foundation.

Ebook versions of Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc.

Join 1,690 other subscribers


0 Responses

  1. Dear Jean, Thank you for your ‘in between’ thoughts that are hope-filled for those of us who feel as if we are ‘plodders’. A Blessing for 2015: “May we each have the courage to travel our desert, to discover our star and to bring to birth our deepest being.” Warmly, Catherine

    1. You’re so welcome, Catherine. I ‘get’ the feeling of being a plodder. I felt that way for years and still do sometimes, but the thing that gradually changed that perception of myself was having a practice I was committed to and sticking with it. Dreamwork and writing are still the core of my inner work, and the fact that the inner life is what I write about in my books and blog posts helps. Both are crucial to my ongoing development.
      “May we each have the courage to travel our desert, to discover our star and to bring to birth our deepest being.” Thank you for this beautiful blessing! I love it, and with your permission I’d like to pass it on in an upcoming speech I’ll be making. I wish the same for you in the coming year! Love, Jeanie

  2. What a sentient life, indeed! Full of wisdom, by tapping into the inner universe, and details are rendered with such simplicity and ease. You are my inspiration, jean as I also begin delving into the Jungian universe. May it be a great 2015 for your continuing quest & many thanks for your blog. Raman

    1. Dear Raman,
      Thank you very much for dropping by and leaving your kind comment. It was a lovely thing to wake up to on this cold and dark winter’s day in the mountains. I’m truly thrilled to hear you’re beginning the inner journey with the help of Jungian psychology, and I wish you the very best of luck with it. To paraphrase Catherine’s beautiful blessing above: “May you have the courage to travel your desert, to discover your star and to bring to birth your deepest being.”
      Wishing you a year of healing insights and growth! Jeanie

    1. Thank you. I’d like to pass on Catherine’s blessing to you too at the beginning of this newest year in your journey, full of hope and promise: May you have the courage to travel your desert, to discover your star and to bring to birth your deepest being. Jeanie

  3. M’dear Jeanie…thank you for this lovely post. I enjoyed reading how your decades have changed, yet the 52nd-week ritual remains steady.
    With regard to the “plodder” comments above, I would like to offer this link to a lovely insight by David Whyte on “procrastination” because I just love it! (I hope it can be read even if you’re not a fb member)

    1. Wow! I read it and loved it! “Procrastination does not stop a project from coming to fruition, what stops us is giving up on an original idea because we have not got to the heart of the reason we are delaying, nor let the true form of our reluctance instruct us in the way ahead”. This is true wisdom. It meshes perfectly with the self-critical sense that we are ‘plodders’ when we’d so much prefer to be ‘high-energy achievers.” Plodding gives us a much better opportunity to connect with our true energies, whereas the compulsion to press on heroically despite our soul’s reluctance leaves us vulnerable to becoming warrior automatons. I’ve always loved his poetry, but not known about his facebook postings from his writings. I’ll be following him from now on. Thank you, and Happy New Year, Darla! Jeanie

  4. Your very own high holy days, Jeanie. I think of this time in a similar way, although family holidays are tinged with sadness now. It’s all mixed with gratitude and curiosity about what came before and what comes next. I do have a goal this year–to take on Psyche’s First Labor and sort the seeds (and piles) as a way to invite an intuition about how long to stay in my home and where to move next. Sending you New Year’s Blessings and so much love.

  5. Sorting the seeds is such a powerful ritual, Elaine. Essentially, that’s what my daughter is doing this week—too many piles, too little time the rest of the year—and she already reports enormous relief and release. And yes, “my very own high holy days” is a perfect description of how this time of year makes me feel. Wishing you clear intuition when the time is right, and sending you my best blessings and love.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Posts

%d bloggers like this: