Franciscan Spirit Blog

Journaling: Grace in the Pages

I love to write. Since I was a boy, paper and pencil have been on my list of favorite things. Now, I’ve added a nib pen. As a boy, I journaled. I still do. 

Some years, writing every day. All journals have this in common: They give voice to what is inside. They become safe space. In that way, journaling is like a sanctuary: a time and a place that allows us—gives us permission—to pause. To look inside and to embrace what is here, what is alive and well. To embrace our enoughness.

Think of this “sanctuary” space as a dose of grace.

It bestows gifts upon us… stillness, gladness, calm, mystery, delight, discovery, learning and peace. This resonates because it is in our DNA to be renewed, nourished, replenished and spiritually hydrated. So, welcome to our journaling journey, as we uncover, embrace and savor. I’m so glad we are on this journey together.

Gratefully, life seems to ignore the script we have in our mind. And when that happens, we walk. We walk toward, or we walk away. Either way, we begin a journey—a pilgrimage to find or restore or give or heal or embrace; to forget or to bury or perhaps, just to have the deck of our world re-shuffled.

In writing we honor who we are and what is inside.

We give it a voice. Journaling is self-care. And self-care is our invitation to self-love, befriending our own heart. Even with the cleansing, soul care is owning the gift of the “not easy to see” stuff. We are, every single one of us, wounded. That is a gift. We are, every single one of us, broken. And that is a gift.

Befriending our woundedness is not a solo act. Yes, I know. It doesn’t always feel that way. I look, but don’t see any gift. Because I see brokenness and woundedness as impediments or disabilities, to be tidied up, overcome or prayed away. What I don’t see is that in the invitation to befriend my “untidy” self, is the invitation to embrace the beauty and the wonder.

I will admit that there is comfort donning my cape, morphing into Mr. Tidy OCD, an emotional life fix-it hero. And I know why. It distracts and protects me, because there’s a part of me that is afraid to pause, to befriend my scattered and wounded self. To let myself be loved for being this wonderfully messy imperfect me.

Grace is WD40 for the soul.

There are significant issues in our world (in my world) that invite and require investment and healing; and I want to show up. And I want to bring my real self, my whole self, and spill light in any small way that I can. But today reminded me that I cannot forget, in my fixation to “make sense” of everything… along the way (even the messy way)… I don’t want to miss the small gifts of life, the serendipitous gifts of grace, the presence of the holy, and the gentle does of the sacred reflected in our everyday, and extraordinarily ordinary world.

Gifts of Grace

I’ve been asked, too often in my life, what I believe. Here’s the odd part; I have never once been asked about what nourishes my soul. Or to list what moves me. Or for stories about what warms my blood, sends gooseflesh up my arms, makes me want to dance, make me love life, or laugh and cry at the same time. I’ve been asked about what is appropriate, but never about what is important. This journal seeks to ask these important questions.

I’ve always been tempted by, enamored with, smitten with arrival. Like the four-year-old child, five minutes out of the driveway on any family trip, “Are we there yet?” The notion that we arrive somewhere is never good for our blood pressure. A journal doesn’t require you to follow the page numbers. There is no chronological requirement or necessity. Find the pages that resonate, and start there. Go with themes that invite, return to themes for seconds.

I encourage you to set aside time every day (even if only 15 minutes) and know that catharsis is a good thing. Don’t be afraid to write without editing. Here’s the good news: Journaling is not a test or contest or beauty pageant. There is no need to impress. When I journal, I can discard the question, “Am I doing it right”? Don’t be afraid to use crayon in addition to pen and ink. Feel free to doodle or draw or paint. Tape photos to the page to remind you of what fills you with joy, with wonder, with sadness, with longing. Let your journal be your invitation to embrace serendipitous gifts of grace.



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