Journaling as a Spiritual Discipline: Light Catchers

(After I spoke in Colorado Springs about journaling as a spiritual discipline, several reading friends asked if I might post a bit more about journaling? I won’t tire anyone with revisiting that talk, but over the next couple of Wednesdays, I’ll post bits and pieces of what I’m currently thinking about as I journal as a spiritual discipline…)

Outside this window, here by my writing desk with a drop leaf of its own, branches stretch leaves up to catch the light.

What can grow without light?

I catch my own light-shafts with paper, on bits of tree still reaching for light.

I need paper. A life has photosynthesis work to do, spiritual work. It requires paper, fibre of the woods. Ink is the life-sap. Ink bleeding through pulp of tree, ink writing bits of a day, a verse of Scripture, a prayer, words that think themselves poems, so I let them play.

I journal.


It’s a way of shining a beam into the dark and figuring out what’s going on in there, in the shadows of a soul, what’s happening on the days I’m overcast. I write because our words, like His, can be a lamp, a light unto our paths.

Just a page, a place to place a day, so it won’t get lost in the dark.

Some days, I grope through, disoriented, and write a phrase… “I hear you, God, saying…”. And then I listen to the day, to His Word, to my heart and Spirit within, and write the listening words.

Then, in dialogue, I write, “Hear me saying, God…”. And then I write out feelings that I hadn’t names for till I found ink. Sins that needed exposing, pruning. Limbs of me that needed stories and unfurling.

Paper leaves touch the light.

It’s what journaling is: catching the light. Catching God filtering through your moments… so your soul can grow.

Some one asked the Impressionist painter, Edward Manet, who the chief person was in one of his paintings.

“The most important person in any picture,” Manet answered, “is the light.”

The stories of our journals are never about us. The most important person in any journals is always The Light. Journal Keeping is Light Keeping.

Let there be light.

Three Journaling Exercises:

Want to be a Light Keeper? Consider trying one of these three exercises over the next week to help cultivate the spiritual discipline of journaling:

1. Just two sentences a day for a week:

“God, I hear you saying…..”
“God, hear me saying….”

2. See journaling as a way to record meeting very God in your everydays… Commit to seven days of writing down just a sentence or two where you glimpsed God in daily rhythms.

3. Each night for the next week jot in a journal before going to bed: “I thank you, Abba Father, for….” and list five blessings from His Hand….

Next Wednesday: Journaling as Family Worship

Photos: my journal, handmade gift of a light-keeping friend,
and open Bible on our kitchen table’s Bible box, Light Words catching light, photo by daughter Hope Voskamp, used with permission….

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