Writing as Spiritual Practice

I heard the call. It wasn’t a whisper or a delicate voice or loud words urging me to transcribe thoughts to paper where I hoped to see ideas born into stories. The call went off like an alarm, telling me it was time to awaken my spirit.

I received my calling when I was fifteen, accompanied by a pink hardcover book containing blank lined pages . . . and a latch glued to the back of the book that fit snugly into a lock glued to the top. I never felt I had to keep my journal locked, though. Under lock and key meant that what was enclosed between the front and back covers was too private—that I had something to hide. It also seemed self-righteous, as if my words were sacred, only to be opened by a holy one. Such a book, shrouded in reverence, reminded me of the Holy Bible at church. When I was a child and Father Sullivan would say Mass on Sundays, the Holy Book traveled from opening procession to the pulpit for the Gospel, then to sitting atop the altar in celebration of the Eucharist. Father would hold the Big Book up to the congregation, signaling the start of the Mass; the large golden clasp sparkled in the overhead lights, revealing an ornate design. The Book was unlatched and opened in ceremony. The holy words were set free as the pages were read aloud. I could almost see a spirit rise and travel to the congregation.

I wanted my words to be open and available. I wanted them to breathe and expand hoping I would generate good thoughts from bad ones, renewing my fledgling being. I wanted my spirit to travel to others as an invitation to be with me. With my flip of the latch, the pages would be free and my words released. But yet I was embarrassed to expose my young self-worth in whether Tom liked me. “. . . he talks to me and really listens. We sit close together and it’s private, just us. His attention to me makes me smile. But I know this won’t last.”  “ . . . if only I wasn’t 15.”

Journal writing fulfilled my need to organize my thoughts, to have a conversation with . . . someone, to feel not alone, to find out about myself. “I’m not a little girl anymore,” I said in high school as I tried to branch out into an adult world. I was eager for clarity. I started to feel passionate about life and wanted to understand the experiences facing me.

As I matured through my teens I realized it wasn’t about me but beyond me, other than me. Through my words I found the extraordinary in the ordinary or even the otherwise overlooked. I longed to have a relationship with the outside world because trying to connect with others had been a struggle.

I believed it was a turning point in finding my place and discovering a sense of belonging . . . “a release of my spirit on a voyage to discover new places . . .  the look of the ocean with the many shades of blue and green that a feeling of serenity reaches your eyes, fills your head, through your body that tingles the toes . . . the depth of the hot sand against your feet, the feeling as the sun embraces your shoulders and the ocean enveloping it all . . . the sounds of tree leaves rustling in the summer . . . a never ending rainbow . . . the power of mind over matter. I venture to see the happiness in the swirling buds of every rose . . . I yearn for joy that the bouquet exhibits . . . the assortment is there for me to choose, the path is there for me to follow. Which will I take? Where will it lead?” I found my voice. I also started to understand the meaning of authentic writing.

Writing regularly has become a fundamental part of the way I live—a natural part of who I am, like breathing. I discovered this when the Holy Book was raised up to onlookers and its content set free with unlocking of its bindings. My youth and innocence dictated that my writing was about me, but later I discovered a universal home and faith was the common link. I prayed through pen and paper, using continuous penmanship as a meditation.

As I matured, I came to realize it wasn’t just about me, but a desire to connect to my outside, to discover how I fit in to a world that felt so overwhelming large but where I discovered the smallest of details in the simplest of life.

The more I write, the more I learn about the relationship the Earth underfoot has with the spiritual space above. Over the years, daily stroking of pen to paper became a practice and a way for me to prepare for my journey through life.

My inscriptions in a small pink book started a dialogue where I wondered about myself. I let go of my private words, freeing the latch on my journal and trusting my spirit to carry them. Reflecting on the interconnectedness of human happenings became a catalyst for authentic writing.

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