Why These Twelve Words Matter

A few years ago I participated in a group exercise in which the facilitator asked us to share a brief reflection on what our hopes were for ourselves as we moved forward in our daily lives. We were encouraged to think spiritually more so than materially. It took some time for all ten of us to compose and then share our reflections aloud. When my turn came, I was struck with an inner clarity of just why these twelve words matter to me that I simply listed vertically in a list on a 4 by 6 index card. All of the words that came to me were complete onto themselves (See words in the image) even as they “fit” together and had meaning as a part of the others. For certain, I could have reflected at length on each word in my list the way others did in our circle, but didn’t. I simply read each word as it came and said nothing more.

You are welcome to join me in this reflection by choosing your own words in your own list and see what comes. The exercise is ridiculously simple. But if you give it time, and let whatever words you choose to sink in so that you see them every day over a period of time, you’ll be surprised at what rises up within yourself and how your words deepen in meaning over time.

My little list and why these twelve words matter to me, has remained alongside my computer now for three years and counting. Though the paper they’re printed on has yellowed and curled with time, each word continues to inform and have meaning for me. Today, I’ll reflect on the first of the twelve words and share others in additional posts over time.


Opportunity seldom comes knocking,
it needs to be coaxed, covered, prayed into and fed
with no guarantees of sticking around.
But I’ll chance it, still, and why? Because
tomorrow comes longing for something to wear,
a cowl of colors for the Spirit’s new home.

Kevin Lee

why these 12 words matter

Author: Kevin Lee

In a nutshell, Kevin fesses up to the following: He's a retired youth advocate-counselor, a blogger, writer, photographer, rower, Friends Minister, grandpa of six and married to a terrific woman for 43 years and counting!

32 thoughts on “Why These Twelve Words Matter”

  1. Those words really resonated with me; as you said, they’re both complete in and of themselves and a part of a greater whole. Many thanks for sharing.

  2. I have to agree with Jess and Katie – you have a gift for making the text flow easily! Great post. I loved the poem. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hello Jessie,
      How kind of you to take the time to comment, and of course to read the post, too. Thanks also for your generous words too of the post as its written. My best to you in your future endeavors!


  3. Great post, it’s not often we reflect and see the true definition of words, I often think of continuity and time and how little we have of it.

    1. Hi Connie, Indeed…time, having it, holding it, preserving it and understanding it by itself could be the topic of a weekend retreat or even a college course!

      My best,

  4. Most of these words resonate with me as well as they really get me thinking about what they mean to me. Thanks for inspiring me to truly think

    1. Greetings Carrie, I’m glad that you enjoyed “Why These Twelve Words Matter.” Thanks for visiting, and best of luck to you and your future. Keep thinking!! 🙂


  5. I agree with you. The words we make up will usually have some deep meaning to us. Great excercise to do, never thought about this smart excercise 🙂

  6. The link between the twelve words and how we should truly live or experience life resonated wholly with me. In particular the word opportunity jumped out at me because we have to make the most of what we have got or get offered!

  7. I like your word choices. I particularly the word opportunity. In these past couple of years, I have taken several opportunities that really opened doors for me to move higher in the industry where I work.

  8. I love your story. Even though you did not say more, these words must have really came to you when you reflected deeply. I must say if I would write something like that I would write Family, Love, Security, Stability, Health and Humanity, Always.

  9. Reading your beautiful post and thinking to myself what all comes in my list. Your post has surely made me reflect deep , which i had not done for long. thanks for the wonderful post .

    1. Greetings Yang,

      Thanks very much for your comments on Why These Twelve Words Matter and visiting my site. What I think is interesting is that any one of us, after a few moments of reflection, come up with our own 12 words that would have equal meaning for each person who wrote them. I have also taken just one of the words on my list and carried it around on a piece of paper in my pocket for a week…it’s amazing where just one word will take take you sometimes.

      My best,

    1. Hello Kylie, Indeed…many of us are lucky, very lucky. Say, have you ever checked out Gratefulness.org? It’s a great site and people from all over the world take part in answering a daily question that in one way or the other touches on the topic of gratefulness.


  10. Love your 12 words. Its a good little exercise to practice. Also loved the poem at the end – gotta realise opportunities and/or make your own 🙂 xx

    1. Hi Laura, thanks for your comments and of course for visiting my site. I find it useful to take a word…just one word sometimes, and carry it around in my pocket for a week or so. It’s amazing all the many ways that we can think and reflect on just one word!

      My best to you, take care.

  11. Opportunity really knocks once and there is no guarantee if you will succeed or not. For me, win or lose at least I tried and I have known the feeling. If I win, I’ll be happy. If not, at least I learned.

    1. Greetings Anna-Maria, Thank you very much for your thoughtful and generous words regarding my writing. “Opportunity,” as a word to hold and contemplate, never grows old and never expires (hopefully) in our lifetime.

      My very best to you,

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