It is rare that I receive a handwritten note or card in the mail anymore. Such artistry has morphed into emails and text messages in which descriptive stories of elation or frustration are relayed in a series of emojis. “Fast and just the facts” has become the mantra of modern communication.
Social media, it seems, has also replaced the tradition of record keeping. Do proud parents still document baby’s first steps on paper? Do people still write down family stories, tucking them securely in Bibles and memory books? Or do we, more often, widely publicize every trivial moment (and favorite YouTube video) for instant consumption on Facebook? Post tweets that are here one second, gone the next?
And what about journaling? I’m not talking about a 7th grade “Dear Diary” entry in which you scribbled “Today I ate a peanut butter sandwich for lunch.” Instead, intentional journaling can be an opportunity to pray through pen and paper; provide a canvas on which to capture and reflect significant events and ponder the various ways God is present in your day, your life, your discernment.
Some people choose to journal via computer; those more artistically inclined may draw to depict life events, enlightenment. For me, contemplation becomes part of the process when I slow my thoughts and allow the rhythm of my handwriting to set the pace of reflection. The more attention I give to details like the legibility of my handwriting, the further I’m drawn into the depths of reflection. And in the quiet moments of a journaling retreat, communication on paper between myself and God has come out quite clear. But no matter the method documenting discernment—taking the time to record and reflect on life through journaling—reveals to me connections I may ordinarily miss as I live in our fast-paced world of emoticon efficiency.
What is revealed when you slow down, stop texting, and record the words in your thoughts?
Are you courageous enough to put them in writing?
Does your discernment become more honest—real—when you see yourself on paper?
Author's note: Watch for journal retreat offerings (among many others) at these FSPA-sponsored spirituality centers: the Franciscan Spirituality Center (La Crosse, Wisconsin), Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center (Hiawatha, Iowa) and Marywood Franciscan Spirituality Center (Arbor Vitae, Wisconsin).
Above image courtesy of freeimages.com