I have been journaling for a long time – since 5th grade, in fact. My best friend, Stephanie, and I were each given little diaries with those flimsy little locks. It amuses me now to think of anyone wanting to hack a ten-year-old’s journal, but I took the privacy measures very seriously. Each night, after writing my entry for the day, I carefully locked the book and stashed it in a secure hiding place – my pajama drawer.
Journaling as a Spiritual Practice
Truth be told, the letters from that time are more of a log than a true journal. I detailed where I went each day and who I encountered. As pre-teen angst escalated, I vented emotions in erratic fashion. One paragraph might bemoan the snubs received on the playground while the next gushed with excitement over getting a new sweater.
In time the diary turned into a journal and became my preferred spirituality practice. Each morning follows the same regimen. I begin with some spiritual material – perhaps the readings for the day or a few pages from one of the many spiritual resources in my library. Of late, I have been reading blogs from the “On Being” web site. They have a lovely inter-faith focus that both challenges and inspires. Then I write in my journal.
Stephanie and I named our diaries after each other so I begin each entry with the salutation: “Dear Stevie.” It never occurs to me to change or drop it. If anything, the greeting is part of my spiritual practice. It links back to my first diary and also reminds me of the purpose and benefits of journal-keeping. There is a value in logging our experiences and writing out our thoughts and emotions. This part of journaling as a spiritual practice is both active and reflective. In addition, journal-keeping provides perspective. Reading past entries affords a long-term view of life and a chronicle of how God has been present to us. The journal then becomes an ongoing spiritual autobiography - a lovely record of the intertwining of God’s love and mercy in our lives.
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux kept a journal that was published after her death and became a spiritual guide for thousands of people. Find out more about her life and download activities to share with your students or family..