Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I love paper and pens and sketching and writing and I am always searching for just the right journal to inspire me to faithfully write inside it every single day. But here’s my trouble…and maybe you can relate…I have found the right journal [always a moleskine] and the right pen [Sigma Micron, preferably black .5mm] but it doesn’t fix the problem, and the problem is me. Maybe you have had a similar experience. The reason is probably different for every person, but I have identified some of my own issues with keeping a daily journal. It’s not that I don’t love to write or like sharing stories. I write every single day. Sometimes my stories are contained in emails to the people close to me or here on my blog, though I even struggle to do that because I always feel as though I should be saying something helpful or important and often I have no idea what that might be. So with emailing and blogging, etc. by the end of the day I can pretty much feel like it’s all been said, that is, if it even occurs to me to journal. Because most of the time, when I think of escaping to my journal, I am feeling an extreme emotion…I’m angry, or I’m sad. So I go write it all out…and then return to it a couple of days later and read the rantings of a mad woman and then I want to hide it. Burn it. Something. Anything so no one will ever happen upon it accidentally and think I was channeling Sylvia Plath or worse.
The thing is, some of the things most precious to me written things. I still have the journal from camp where I reached out to God in the midst of a lof of pain and confusion and found Him there. I was 12 years old at the time. And when my daughter went to the same camp at the same age, I was able to share it with her. I had proof in the form of paper and ink that I understood.
I have a book that I bought for my Dad to fill out [never actually expecting him to do it] about his life story, and I have his handwritten entries there to read. His stories and his thoughts are precious to me now that he is gone. I have notes my Grandpa wrote to me when I was in college. He is gone, too…but his words still comfort and encourage me.
I am a photographer, so often times my stories are kept in pictures, but I am a storyteller above all things, and sometimes words are necessary. But my failure to do this faithfully for so long has always kept me from beginning again…until recently. Disciplines are not my thing. Mostly because I try to do them the “right way” and either I am too A.D.D. to manage that or I hate it and I give up. But in the last few years I have discovered that I just have to find the ways that work for me. And I think I may have found my own answer for failure to journal. It is a two-part solution. The first part being this cool new tool called Oh Life! It is ridiculously simple and that is what makes it so awesome. You subscribe and it sends you an email at 8pm every evening. You reply to that email and that is your journal entry for the day. Bam. It also shows you what you wrote the day before if you are curious or want to read it again. The second part is the Ignatian Prayer of Examen. There are several ways to practice this kind of prayer, but for me it starts with the question “Where did I see God today?” So when I don’t know what to journal, this practice is what I write about. It’s not a gratitude journal. Although I have often found myself grateful. The Prayer of Examen is primarily the spiritual exercise of noticing, remembering and seeing with spiritual eyes the events of your day…the intention isn’t justifying, or rationalizing, or even interpreting events…the intent is to observe and remember. To notice and to listen. Here is a link to information about Ignatian Prayer
With these two tools, I am keeping a daily journal.
grace and peace, kh