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I’ve been journaling since I can’t remember when.
Looking back, many, if not most, of the entries were written in stressful, difficult times, when I couldn’t sleep or when I needed an outlet for pain, anger or disappointment.
I also wrote pages upon pages on retreat. Those sections are brimming with quotes from the spiritual books I was reading as well as remarkable insights and yearnings. Having cleared away everyday concerns with prayer and settled into silence, my daily jottings reflected a depth that my everyday self rarely enjoys or entertains.
When I began to journal, I simply found composition notebooks, very plain and utilitarian. Then I must have begun to value my scribblings more, for I found beautiful journals in which to record my thoughts, observations and feelings.
This year I made a wonderful discovery: journals with uplifting stories and quotes. I’m using the Daily Guideposts Journal, which contains short scriptural quotes on the top of the left-hand pages and prayers related to those quotes on the bottom of the right-hand pages. These nuggets of wisdom give me pause, even if only for a millisecond. Reading them is like popping a vitamin for the soul. The book also contains a selection of devotionals sprinkled throughout.
Another journal, Conari Press’ My Soul Pages by Janet Conner, recently came across my desk at work. This one is more spiritual, rather than biblical, in nature. For example, she includes sayings from poets (fourteenth-century Persian mystic Hafiz being her favorite), saints and authors, as well as material from her book Writing Down Your Soul.
In the end, it’s the act of journaling that’s most valuable, especially if it becomes a regular practice. You can journal to simply reflect on your day or converse with God. Or, if you have more time, give yourself themes or topics to write about, such as: What nourishes my soul? What’s my purpose, and am I fulfilling it?
Just as the eyes are said to be the windows to the soul, so journals can be seen as prisms capturing our inner light.
Anne Simpkinson is the online managing editor of guideposts.org. She co-authored Soul Work: A Field Guide for Spiritual Seekers and has edited two anthologies entitled Sacred Stories: A Celebration of the Power of Stories to Transform and Heal and Nourishing the Soul: Discovering the Sacred in Everyday Life. A spiritual practice, good friends, lakeside cottage and two lovely feline companions continue to transform and enrich her life.