A Revelation...

…And a new sense of freedom.

You wouldn’t know it from reading this blog, which I update only rarely, but I write constantly. It’s how I order my thoughts; it’s how I 'make sense’ of new ideas; it’s how I ‘fit them’ into my world view; it’s how I learn lessons. It’s also ’therapy’ - I find that writing about something painful helps me get it ‘out there’ - out of my mind - so that I can examine it dispassionately, and it helps me ‘marshall my thoughts’ for when I want to tell a real person about whatever’s bothering me. And, if I’m honest, it helps me to connect with God in new ways.

As well as this blog, I keep a ‘therapeutic journal’ - which is all sorts of ‘private’ stuff - things I need to get ‘out of my head’. Most of it goes no further, but some of it gets shared, often in modified form, with my close confidants. Frequently I also write short ‘essays’ which often sit, unfinished, unpolished, on my various electronic writing devices. Recently I have also started to keep a ‘spiritual log’ - where I am writing down ideas, thoughts, revelations from God, which are connected to my relationship with Him. The latter is, gradually, taking over in importance from the ’therapeutic journal’. Perhaps that’s sign that I’m maturing in the faith? Who knows! The ‘essays’ that don’t get ‘transmogrified' into blog posts are tending to end up in the log now, rather than existing as ‘orphans’, alone and unloved in the vast empty spaces of my hard drives.

Often, I feel guilty about writing.

Why?

I feel guilty because I feel as though everything that I write (outside my therapeutic journal) ought to be for ‘public consumption’ - but so little ‘makes the cut'. I’m not sure quite why that makes me feel guilty, but somehow, I feel as though, as an intelligent (well, I can give that appearance, sometimes!), thinking, person, I ought to share my insights into ‘Life the Universe, and Everything’; perhaps that sounds terribly arrogant of me, but it isn’t intended that way! It is, instead, meant as a humble offering of service; a means of helping others think about faith, and thereby perhaps to strengthen their connection with the divine. So when I write stuff which doesn’t end up being published ‘here’, I feel as though I’m wasting time and effort. Some of the ‘spiritual’ stuff I write about though, is stuff I am only just beginning to understand, or realise, and I can’t explain it well enough to write about it in a cogent manner. And sometimes, it just doesn’t seem appropriate to share. And it can be a painful process too - trying, striving, to write ‘sense’; to ‘make something’ which is fit to be seen.

But, nevertheless, I do still feel guilty. Or I did until today.

Lately, a member of my Lifegroup shared a spiritual exercise from a book she’d been reading, and it moved me greatly. So I bought a copy of the book (Henri Nouwen’s “Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long walk of Faith”) and have begun to read it. First I read it all, cover to cover, quickly; now I have returned to the beginning and am reading it a chapter at a time, trying to do each of the exercises. Lots of things have ‘leapt out at me’. But, at this moment, one thing in particular has caught my attention, from a chapter entitled ‘How Do I Hear the Word?’ - specifically a section in that chapter entitled ‘Writing the Word’. A lot of it is about Nouwen’s authorship of books, but there are also hints - more than hints even - that he used writing to ‘make sense of’ what God was saying to him:

"Spiritual formation requires a constant attempt to identify ways in which God is present among us. Regular writing is one important way to do this. I remember how, during one long stay in Latin America, daily writing helped my to discover how the Spirit of God was at work in all that I was experiencing. Underneath the seemingly fragmenting multitude of visual and mental stimulations, I was able to discover a "hidden wholeness”. Writing made that possible. It brought me in touch with the unity underneath the diversity and the solid current beneath the restless waves. Writing became the way to stay in touch with the faithfulness of God in the midst of a chaotic existence.”

He also recommends keeping a spiritual journal.

So, as of today, I have realised (or it has been revealed to me?), that my writing is for more than the edification of my fellow man (and woman!); it is one of the ways in which I connect with God; one of the ways in which I explore 'the incomparable riches of His grace’ (Ephesians 2:7). So I don’t need to feel guilty about some (or even most!) of my writing not being for the benefit of others, but being for my own spiritual development. Writing needs to be a part of my ‘being’ at least as much as it is part of my ‘doing’.

God bless you.

Copyright Phil Hendry, 2016