When my husband and I take road trips, I take a little notebook with me and jot down highlights to remember about the journeys. When I go on a religious retreat weekend or to a day of spiritual reflection, I take a journal with me so I can record interesting and helpful concepts I hear or reflect upon throughout the experience. When I am trying to pay good attention in my personal prayer time, I write down little inspirations I receive or Bible verses that particularly touch me at the time.
It is useful and often enlightening to go back and review all these notes. With the road trip entries, it can be fun to relive our family adventures. The spiritual journal entries sometimes enlighten me all over again. I might read a passage and refocus on a particular word. I might surprise myself with a bit of self-revelation. I might even read a special message that God wants me to notice.
The writing does not have to be perfect grammar or publish-worthy. It can be just random phrases, stream of consciousness, or a Bible notation reference. Nowadays, I would not even have to carry a notebook around with me; iPads and cell phones can provide a handy place to record.
A number of years ago, I was inspired by some of the books of the Bible (with all due respect to biblical book titles) to begin writing a short journal-like review of my spiritual life. I suggest you might like to try your own version. For example, how about writing in gratitude about your beginnings, your fond memories of childhood—your genesis? How about the numbers in your life—, for example, 1. your relatives, 2. your friends over the years, 3. your favorite teachers or mentors, 4. your co-workers and acquaintances? What are your three favorite life maxims? What are your four best memories about church sacraments or ceremonies?
I made up a what-do-you-want-of-me? section in which I sought to ask the Lord what he wanted me to improve upon in my life. So as not to get too heavy, I did have a section called the book of levity, so I could record some lighter, sillier life moments.
Without being a poet or a songwriter, anyone can write his or her own psalms to praise and thank the Lord for all the blessings he showers down.
Favorite gospel stories are great jump-off places for reflection and personal life comparisons and checkups. Again, I am not recommending long, drawn-out ramblings; highlights and focus words are very useful.
My acts of my adulthood is a book that is still ongoing, sort of a continuing memoir—-but of the spiritual-life ilk. I hope it will contain a measure of wisdom acquired over the years. The more I write, the more there are revelations of what I need to work on to grow.
I cannot put myself on the same level as the prophet Jeremiah:
However, I can attest to the usefulness of journaling. As I get older, I find it very beneficial to read over important information more than once. If it has a divine flavor, better still!
Whether I am writing or speaking, Psalm 45:1 seems to fit right in here:
I address my verses to the king,
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.
The scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.