Spiritual Practice: Writing

writing
Writing as a spiritual practice? Of course! Every religion has its writings. I remember when my spiritual director said that writing was a form of prayer. I was blown away. Anything done with intention toward God is a from of prayer. So, I’ve been pondering this question lately: Why do I write? And especially, why do I write books? Obviously, there are other things I could do with my time. But, writing seems to be something I feel almost driven to do.

I’ve tried writing off and on many times in my life but for some reason this is the first season I’ve been able to take a finished book and see it through the rewriting/editing/publishing process. Maybe I just had to be old enough to have the patience for it.

It feels like there’s something more though. I’ll never forget the privilege I had at the Festival of Faith and Writing in 2014 when I heard Brian Doyle speak. He was a poet, novelist, essayist and the editor of Portland Magazine. Sadly, he passed away suddenly and too soon, at the age of sixty. During his talk he told us how three of his friends died in the twin towers during 9-11. He was too distraught to write about it until his little daughter came and said,

“Dad, you always tell us not to waste our gifts. Your gift is writing and you are wasting it.”

Then he decided to tell three stories about 9-11: One about a couple who may or may not have known each other but chose to face death together and jumped from the building holding hands, another about a man that wheeled a women in wheelchair down 80 flights of stairs then ran back to get more and didn’t come out, and the third about a fireman who kept going in and out saving people until he came out no more. He said our stories about hope and beauty help push back the darkness in the world and we need to keep telling them. I hear you Brian. I hear you.

shine a light

This is the way I feel about writing and it felt good to hear someone else say it.

I believe our stories are sacred and somehow push back the darkness in a very dark world. I write because I am driven to shine a light, no matter how small, and say to a hurting world, there is hope.

How about you? Why do you write?

 

Want more? Check out my books!

Photo Credit: Writing,   Colored Lights

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Spiritual Practice: Sabbath Rest

rest

 

On Mondays, when I’m in the middle of my work day, I get a calendar reminder on my phone that says, “Tomorrow is your Sabbath.” The notification gives me great joy and peace knowing tomorrow I can rest.

The word Sabbath means different things to different people. To my Jewish friends it comes from the creation story where God created the world in six days and on the seventh day rested. He commands his followers to do the same, and when I lived in Israel, the Sabbath was definitely something to look forward to! It was celebrated from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday, so we spent Friday shopping and chopping, preparing a fantastic dinner to share with friends. Good food, good friends, good wine, joy and rest. Everything was closed Saturday so there was nowhere to go, nothing to do but relax. It is a beautiful practice.

Americans, however, even the Christians who still celebrate a form of the Sabbath on Sundays, have largely missed the point of Sabbath Rest. They rush off to church, dragging their screaming children, because they are usually late, and sit through a service that may or may not renew their souls. The rest of the day might be full of errands or house cleaning or yard work. It isn’t very restful. Plus, everything is open for business, so there is shopping to be done! I don’t know about you but I generally clean the house, do the laundry and  buy my groceries on Sundays.

I had the good fortune of working for a ministry that taught me the importance of taking a Sabbath day to rest to restore my soul. For most people in ministry, the weekend is not a good time for Sabbath rest as it is full of ministry opportunities. That is why my Sabbath falls on a Tuesday. I plan my work schedule around my Sabbath.

I see Sabbath as a day to reconnect with myself and with God — a day to do things that are good for my soul. My Sabbath day might go like this: I don’t set the alarm and wake up with I’m done sleeping. I enjoy some time to read and pray, or as on an extra special morning, get a massage! Then I generally go to the library and sit in the corner quiet area. This is where I write. I love to write and writing restores my soul in a very real way. You might have a different favorite activity like hiking or reading or going to a movie or scheduling lunch with a friend or taking a nap. At lunch I may treat myself to food I don’t normally eat, like a Taco Bell burrito and a diet coke. In the evening I enjoy my Yoga class. It’s a day of spaciousness and settling and reminding myself what is truly important.

If you’re a young parent, having a Sabbath might seem impossible. But, I’ve known couples who have done Sabbaths together, or taken half-day Sabbath’s so they can trade the children off with each other. I’ve known single parents who have traded kids with friends for a few hours so they can have mini Sabbaths. When you have small ones, two or three hours for yourself is an incredible luxury.

And don’t think it’s going to happen naturally once you’re retired. I’ve noticed that as soon as someone retires other people tend to make demands on their time, which is fine, if that gives you joy. But, if you want to have a Sabbath, no matter what your life situation is, you’re going to have to make boundaries around that day, or that period of time, and defend them against the myriad offers to do other good things. With Sabbath, like with most things, you are not choosing between good and bad things, but good and better things. No one will value your time for you, you have to fight for it yourself.

dreams

So, give it a try. First, brainstorm these questions:

What would I do if I had an entire day to myself?

What most makes my soul feel light, happy, and renewed?

How can I consciously connect with God, myself, and my body?

 

Then, decide when and how to make it happen. Let me know if you try it and how it goes. Enjoy this day of rest.