Posts tagged ‘writing as spiritual practice’

Nov 30 2016

A Writer’s “Four Noble Truths”

I was on a retreat recently, hosted by the Friends of Silence, which was founded by the writer Nan Merrill. Nan passed away a few years ago, and her legacy — the Friends of Silence newsletter — has been inherited by residents of the Rolling Ridge Retreat Center. As a tribute to Nan, Rolling Ridge has built a cabin to house her library, and in that library one can sit in Nan’s rocking chair, and…

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Apr 18 2014
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Finding God at the Tip of Your Pen: Preparing the Way

When I was ten years old I started writing my autobiography.  I wrote it from the point of view of an old woman looking back on her life.  She was a nun, this older woman, and she wanted to tell her readers the story of how she had become a Bride of Christ. I finished this autobiography a few months ago, at age 62.  It’s called Home After Exile: A Spiritual Odyssey, and at the…

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Apr 26 2013
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Journal Writing

In this excerpt from a letter to a student in her online class Writing for Children, Helena explains her journal writing practice. I write in my journal every morning.  It’s something I’ve practiced for almost 35 years, is a way I collect myself, commune with myself and, frankly, God.  All my hopes and dreams, my insights, all kinds of contemplation go into that pen-tip on paper. Looking back at them is not something I ever…

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Mar 29 2013
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What Is Communication?

If you want to write, you want to communicate, yes?  But what does that really mean? I invite you to consider the Latin root of our word “communicate,” which is “com” (with) plus “uni” (one).  The literal meaning of the word “communicate is “to be one with.”  The word “community” has the same root, and means the same thing:  “to be one with.” So when you write, there is a “being one with” that happens,…

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Mar 15 2013
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The Sound Of Inspiration

In a recent post, I quoted E.B. White, who said, “All writing is communication; creative writing is communication through revelation — it is the Self escaping into the open.” I’m intrigued by this notion of writing as self-revelation, because it’s what keeps me coming back to my desk day after day.  Not because I have a message for the world, not because I have a story to tell, but because as I find the words…

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Feb 01 2013
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Surprise: A Writer’s Gift to the World

Yesterday during my morning’s walk, I noticed a ditch along the side of the road, filled with rainwater and clotted with leaves. Dead leaves in a ditch, I thought, but then my brain registered something else:  a mighty fretwork of trees towering loftily above – or were they plunging down below? – into a sky where alabaster clouds drifted by, billowing underfoot, but no, that’s impossible, they must be drifting high above, but no, the…

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Jan 25 2013
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A Writer’s Sacred Duty

One of the reasons I founded the Center for Creative Writing was to provide aspiring writers with an awareness of artistic endeavor as a sacred call, a holy vocation, a divine mission to a people starved for wisdom.  Recently I came across this quote in a book called Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet by theologian Matthew Fox. All artists have to let go of the modern world’s silly and reductionist notions that…

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Dec 14 2012
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The Writer You Are Becoming

The Writer You Are Becoming

The other day I was wandering around nearby Leonardtown, after my appointment at the dentist’s and before the bookstore opened.  In the yarn store there was this woman sitting in front of a loom, doing mysterious things with her hands and feet that transformed stiff, straight rows of brightly-colored thread into soft billows of patterned fabric.  The me that has always been a weaver said, “I’ve always wanted to learn how to weave,” and I…

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