November 15, 2007
I've kept a journal for as long as I can remember.
When I was a kid, I'd take the notebooks we had leftover at the end of the school year and gleefully rip out pages covered with math problems or definitions. When I was done, I'd have a stack of thin notebooks, with bent spirals but lots of clean pages left. As I got older, I began being fussier. I like a journal to be spiral-bound, lined, and small enough to carry with me wherever I go. But not too small.
I keep my most recent journals on a shelf in my home office, with the idea that I can thumb through them for inspiration, although to be honest, I mostly just look at the most recent one. The pages of my journals are messy, filled with all kinds of rambling scribbling. Ideas for poems or blog posts. Lists of goals. Names of books I want to read. Angry venting. Random descriptions. Memories written down. Lists of things I want to do. I write down thoughts to get them out of my head so I have room to think.
I have a separate monastery journal, and that one is different from the rest. I write in it only twice each year. This journal is about me, my personal goals, my spiritual journey, the ways I am trying to become the person I want to be. Every time I go to the monastery on retreat, I have time to think about those goals, about the issues I am working on. I write down my feelings. I write down all that has happened over the last half-year: the painful moments, the joyous moments, the revelations, the mistakes, the insight.
Each time, I reread the whole journal to see what progress I've made, to make sure I am climbing in the right direction, that I haven't wandered too far off the path. The journal forces me to be honest with myself. Always, as I sit in the crypt or on a bench at the edge of a sheep pasture, I look at the contents of my monastery journal and am thankful for the richness of my life, the many moments of grace.
Posted by jo(e)