Saturday, August 07, 2004

Get it in Writing!

I have kept a journal of one form or another for most of my adult life. I distinctly remember the first time I got a diary as a Christmas present. It was one of those leatherette ones with the little lock and key. I was nearly frantic with anticipation for New Year's Day to come so that I could write in it for the first time.

Over the years I have written in notebooks, blank books, for a time I had a computer journal in word that was password protected. I have been given journals as gifts and have purchased them on my own.

I know exactly what type of journal I like to write in too. It can't be one of those bound books; it has to have a spiral binding. But not just any spiral notebook will do, it has to be at least 8 by 6 inches and have hard cardboard covers so that it lays flat in my lap as I write. The Spirals have to be those big thick metal ones that barely move when you bend them. I have to write in pencil as well, and mechanical pencils are the best, they are always sharp, so long as you don't run out of lead.

Having said that I will admit that someone gave me a bound empty book as a gift one time and I began to use it as my journal. I really didn't like it at all, the paper was too thick, and it never sat in my lap the way I liked. But being the person that I am I felt that I should keep using it, even though I didn't like it, because someone had given it to me. I am not sure what finally broke me of that feeling, at some point I just realized that resenting having to write in my journal just to fill it up was becoming a common theme in my entries. I tell you I felt completely set free when I put that half-filled book on the shelf next to my old journals and began writing in a new spiral bound one I purchased at a discount store.

Presently I have three ongoing journals. One is for general use, I write in it most evenings if I think about it. It is like a trusted friend that comes with me wherever I go. I have one that I keep with my Liturgy of the Hours book, so that I can write my reaction or reflection when I am praying. The third journal I have right now is my current retreat journal. I just came back from retreat a few weeks ago, and I keep my little notebook/journal from that retreat nearby so that if anything I gleaned from that retreat needs to be commented on or thought about I have it handy.

The strangest thing about my journals I have found is when I go back and re-read parts of old journals. In some ways I can see just how far I have come in my spiritual walk. Or I can re-experience some incident in the lives of my children or husband or myself. Or I can become extremely frustrated that no matter how enlightened and evolved I think I am; I am still struggling with the same temptations that I struggled with six or ten or fifteen years ago. That really used to get me down until I thought about how far I have come in terms of understanding my own weaknesses and sinfulness.

The amazing thing I find when reading old journals is how struck I am by the beauty of something I wrote years ago. I hope as a writer that I never lose that sense of awe at the gift God has bestowed upon me.

I guess in a way this has become like journal entries for me. Odd to think, I really don't like when other people read my journals, and here I am writing this blog for the entire world to see. I guess that could be considered growth on my part.

Through all of my journal writing one theme has been the most constant: Lord give me the will to do your will in my life. The difference between my early entries and the more current ones is that I am so much more aware of God's will in what happens than I used to be. God has ordered my steps very carefully. And I will follow Him, wherever He leads. Just last week I was given a chance to begin to mend a broken relationship that I have been praying about for years.

So I wait, and pray, and write in my journal. God is good, all the time.


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