Writing as Spiritual Practice

an excerpt…

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.

What I wanted and what I felt was a contradiction. 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 felt my words were private. 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.

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