We face a year of unlimited potential. The choices we make, every day, as to how we wish to live will shape our lives and the world around us. How do we intend to show up in 2018, to manifest the good for ourselves and our world this year?
Last week in the Burning Bowl ceremony, we released those false beliefs, habits, or judgments that have burdened us, and, in the space we created, we wrote our intentions and desires for the new year.
In our White Stone ceremony, we step intentionally and consciously into the new year. Here at One World we teach, and live, the principles of intentionality and conscious awareness, realizing that our lives are so much richer when we are fully present to them. The rituals we use, including the White Stone, help us clearly mark our endings and new beginnings, keeping us aware of the transitions and events in our lives.
Our White Stone ritual gives us the opportunity to consider how we want to show up in the coming year. It’s a time of awakening to our intentions, and listening for our next step.
Author Judy Connato wrote about the power of intention:
So often we talk about our intentions – how significant they are, that if we hold and envision an intention we will move toward it. We must also remember that we are the Spirit’s intention, each of us. Each of us is an expression of Incomprehensible Holy Mystery’s intentionality, its effort to engage in the world, to become more present in the world, to tangibly incarnate a greater portion of itself in and for our Earth community 
So, why a white stone? The white stone is a symbol that’s been with us for over two thousand years, certainly in use at the time of Jesus. At that time, in the Roman world, a white stone was given to a prisoner released from jail, to tell the world that he was now free. His sentence was done, he had paid, the shackles were gone.
The genesis of the White Stone ceremony as practiced in New Thought gatherings is found in the Christian scripture, at Revelation 2:17. It reads as follows:
“Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.”
What is the hidden manna? It’s sustenance, nourishment – in this case spiritual sustenance. To those who have overcome, who have put aside fear and illusion, spiritual wisdom will flow.
So this stone is a symbol of freedom, of awakening and new beginnings. Last week we focused on releasing those beliefs and attributes that kept us in prisons of our own making – prisons with bars labeled fear, resentment, judgment, limitation, or separation. We consciously released all that last week.
Let’s focus on freedom as we turn into this new year. We make a great deal out of our political freedoms, and we are so fortunate to have them. However, personal freedom is something else – it is more, as Thomas Merton wrote, than the ability to “wander aimlessly here and there, to taste this or that, to make a choice of distractions.”
True freedom arises when we turn from the diversions that surround us in order to know ourselves. We are free when we live fearlessly, doing what we love because we have found what we love and have rejected all reasons to hold back. We engage on a journey of self-discovery, without fear or limits.
Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron teaches that her meditation practice helps her on this journey. As she sits, she has the space to examine her emotions and reactions without fear or judgment, looking at herself with a kind curiosity.
So think about your freedom, as you walk into the New Year. Take a minute and ask yourself what idea, what word, what new name comes to you which gives you that sense of freedom, of unlimited potential? What word, idea or name opens doors in your soul, letting in the light of possibility and potential? What idea that you can do, or be, in the New Year makes you just hum with joy? Just as we laid burdens down, what now makes you fly?
And I will give a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name, known only to the one who receives it.
What is your new name, new idea, that gives you wings? Courage, peace, surrender, joy. It could be a vocation – teacher, healer, singer, artist.
Only you know it, because of all the billions of people on this planet, including those here before and those yet to come, you alone are the unique expression of Spirit with your gifts, experience, insights, and hopes. How can any of us think we are average? Your job while you’re here is to shine as you because nobody else can. If you hold back, the world is a poorer place.
That is the greatest tragedy – to leave our song unsung. You are here to bring your own gifts to the world, just as you are now, in all your human-ness. What are you waiting for?
Rabbi Meshulam Zusha of Hanipol was a great Hasidic scholar of the late 18th century. The story goes that lying on his death bed, Reb Zusya was very upset and crying, tears streaming down his face. His students asked with great concern, “Reb Zusya, why are you upset? Why are you crying? Are you afraid when you die you will be asked why you were not more like Moses?”
Reb Zusya replied, “I am not afraid that the Holy One will ask me ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Moses?’ Rather, I fear that the Holy One will say, ‘Zusya, why were you not more like Zusya?’”
How are you going to show up this year? Where is your freedom? Don’t let the year pass with your song unsung – find what sets you free and let your light shine!
 “Reflections on Receiving the Sacred Universe Award”, by Judy Cannato
Author: Rev. Melanie Eyre, Interfaith Minister
Spiritual Leader of One World Spiritual Center
Founder of North Fulton Interfaith Alliance