During my first year as a pastor, a wise friend told me to make a habit of journaling through and about the many and varied experiences and people that I encountered in my daily work. I’ve not been as regular with this as I should, but I have found that when I do make a practice of writing about experiences and how they affect me, it invariably brings a measure of clarity and, often, newfound resolve to whatever situation happens to be looming large, whether positive or negative.
I was reminded of my friend’s wise advice today when I came across this quote from Henri Nouwen via The Prodigal Kiwi:
Writing can be a true spiritual discipline. Writing can help us to concentrate, to get in touch with the deeper stirrings of our hearts, to clarify our minds, to process confusing emotions, to reflect on our experiences, to give artistic expression to what we are living, and to store significant events in our memories. Writing can also be good for others who might read what we write. Quite often a difficult, painful, or frustrating day can be “redeemed” by writing about it. By writing we can claim what we have lived and thus integrate it more fully into our journeys. Then writing can become lifesaving for us and sometimes for others too.