When I say, “Spiritual writing,” what do you imagine? Does the image of a darkly clad Victorian lady transcribing messages from the great beyond pop into your head? Or do you think of St. Augustine, pouring out his Confessions? A medieval monk prayerfully copying the Gospel by candlelight in a high tower?
Or do you picture yourself in more modern settings with contemporary tools: a Moleskine prayer journal, where you transcribe prayers and respond to them, or where your original prayers flow freely onto the page? A blog where you click and share your devotional thoughts with others in real time?
Spiritual writing has taken many forms over the ages, but its purpose has always been to answer the same question: How do we connect with the divine? How do we capture the concept of infinite Love with a few nouns and verbs? How do we convey our feelings and questions about God to other mortals? Words fail.
But words are often all we have. And they are a powerful starting place. Henri Nouwen said, “Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories.” By writing, he said, we claim what we have lived, and we can integrate it more fully into our journeys. In this way, writing can become lifesaving, for us, and for others. It can connect us, to ourselves, to each other, and to God.
We’re all on a spiritual journey, and we can benefit from writing our stories. Whether you want to write your experiences to process them for yourself or to share them with other travelers, the first step is to take pen to paper to capture the details.
It’s interesting that the Old French root for both journey and journal is journée: a day’s length, a day’s work or travel. We experience our spiritual journey one day at a time. If we are going to write a spiritual memoir, we need to begin capturing our experiences one day at a time, journaling until we can begin to see pattern or direction emerge. At that point, we can begin telling the stories of our journey in ways that provide even deeper meaning for us and for our fellow travelers.
Join us this Sunday evening, October 24, 6 p.m. til 8 p.m. when Cameron Dezen Hammon, who teaches Creative Nonfiction and Spiritual Writing in the English Department at Rice University, leads us in a Spiritual Writing Workshop. She will delve into the ways we take part in a spiritual story that connects us to one another, to the Divine as we understand it, and to the natural world in which we live. We will investigate our own spiritual experiences through writing prompts, conversation, and a short reading from her award-winning spiritual memoir, This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession.
Take the first step on the writing journey, or find companionship along the path you are already following. Whatever your experience with writing, this evening promises to be centering, enlightening, and encouraging.
Join us before the workshop at The Well, a contemplative Celtic Eucharist, and for Tea & Toast by the bookstore in Latham Hall.
The cost of the workshop is $20, and it includes a copy of This Is My Body, as well as a journal. Register to attend by clicking here. For more information, click here. And, if cost is a hardship, please contact the Rev. Becky Zartman by clicking here.
I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.
Spiritual Writing with Cameron Dezen Hammon is presented in partnership with Brazos Bookstore.