Help in Journaling from the Holy SpiritEver get locked out of your car? I mean totally locked out, without even a spare wallet key or one of those magnetic cases that stick to the wheel well. It is not a pleasant experience. That’s what prayer is like without the Holy Spirit. That’s what life is like without the Holy Spirit. There is no way to go about our business, no engine, no wheels, no moving forward. When we feel stalled or locked out of our relationship with God, spiritual journaling can help. Through the guidance of the Holy Spirit a notebook becomes a spiritual roadmap, a familiar way to call upon our Guide. “O Divine Spirit, I wish to be before You as a light feather, so that Your Breath may carry me where you will.” (St. Catherine Drexel)Journaling is a dynamic activity that begins with crying out to the Holy Spirit and with listening for the voice of God. It is a way to capture the dialogue between us and Jesus. God’s Spirit moves us in two important ways through spiritual journaling. The first movement is toward stillness. The Spirit sets us on an inner journey into God’s presence, placed at the core of our being during Baptism. Through the Holy Spirit, prayer becomes a new immersion into the life-giving waters of God’s presence; and recording what happens, helps us think about and remember God’s saving actions. (See Psalm 77:11-12).
The second part of journaling involves movement toward others, and reflection about the important people and activities that are part of God’s call in our lives. As we describe our concerns and replay daily events in the light of the Holy Spirit, we watch for the ways that our companion, Jesus, points us towards the Father. “God is not far from each of us. For ‘in him we live and move and have our being.’” (Acts 17:27-28). Journaling helps us contemplate and rehearse new ways to bring Jesus into the world. Several years of journals can also be revised to become the greater part of a spiritual biography, written for loved ones.
Here are some suggestions for surrender to the Spirit through journaling:
• Begin with an opening prayer to the Holy Spirit, who illuminates the road ahead. Use a form prayer, a song, or praying in tongues as a cleansing shortcut into the depths of the Spirit. Search out the voice of the Spirit who is the author of the spiritual life and the agent of all holiness.
• Enter a line or two from the Scriptures of the day, or from the writing of the saints, or from a book of the Bible, or a meditation book like Prayer Journal for Baptism in the Spirit (Chariscenter USA, 2002)
• Tell God what you are feeling and thinking. Consider recording a small part of your conversation. The act of writing illuminates areas of our lives that need the transforming touch of the Holy Spirit. Don’t worry about your choice of words, repetition, or messy handwriting. These things don’t matter. Be creative. For example, drawing may be more important than writing for some people.
•End with a statement about what you believe, or an act of thanksgiving to God for sending the Holy Spirit. This can be verbal or written.
•Review your journal every three months, or during a day of prayer or a session with your spiritual director. Underline the entries that resonate with God’s voice when you review them. Pray with these entries again. Over time, you will see patterns of thought, prayers and Scriptures, that reoccur, almost like spiritual breadcrumbs that point out the next step in the journey home.
From St. Catherine Drexel’s spiritual diary. She explains: “If I can say of an action: I did it out of love for God. Then there is something in it that will last through all eternity. It may have been a failure –but a priceless failure.” Certainly, this applies to spiritual journaling and our meager efforts to record the movement of God’s Spirit. We can be sure that the Holy Spirit does not abandon us, but helps us create a priceless collection of spiritual maps that will give us new hope when we are stuck by the side of the road.
adapted from http://www.nsc-chariscenter.org somewhere…now I can’t find it!