Writing to Save the day
“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. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write.
Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be "redeemed" by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.”
Henri Nouwen, Henri Nouwen Society, Daily Meditations
My exposure to writing as a spiritual practice first began when I heard or experienced some situation that I knew I wanted to remember, and so I tried to write it down. At first I had to write about it almost immediately or I would lose the observation. The more vividly I described the scene, the more I remembered. Eventually I learned to keep an experience in my head for a little longer and digest it before I wrote about it. Sometimes the need to write down the experience was so overpowering that I had to stop what I was doing. I learned over time that as I wrote, images, ideas came that I had never started with. It was as if the writing was out of my control. I also learned that every message I wrote that I hoped might be useful to others was really meant for me. It was something I needed to hear. Now my writing has become my best prayer. Writing is a time of peace. I do feel the “fruit of the spirit” when I write. (Galatians 5:22-23) When I write and do not feel peace, love, joy, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, or self-control, I know am not doing something right. My belief is that in our writing, we do have an opportunity to let the Holy Spirit help us see where God is working in our lives and in the lives of others we are called to put to paper. I also am learning that God uses every part of our lives. I know my medical training where I had to “publish or perish”, where I had to learn to describe in detail what I was observing, to research what others had done on the subject, but to try to come up with a different or new viewpoint or confirm an old idea was a way to practice writing about seeing where God is present and is intimately working in our lives. No experience is ever wasted in our lives. God uses every part of our lives to attempt to connect to us. It is a small measure of God’s love for us.