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 form 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.
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?
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