I first discovered the magic of journaling as a child of twelve. Like many others before me, I made my diary my confidante; a witness to the events of my life, large and small. Somehow the small events became more significant when they were noticed and recorded. The large, lined notebooks with hard covers I got hold of in the ‘fifties, had a lot of memorabilia stuck down in them: photos, drawings, flowers, things found as I was walking. I was a lonely child and had instinctively found a way to find companionship of sorts. This is just one magical thing about journaling, as I grew older, my journal was not just an account of what happened, but a record of what I was feeling. I kept up this practice after entering a convent. I had no idea then how this helped keep me sane as a nun. Of course it also eventually became a resource for my book, God’s Callgirl, many years later. Who would have known!
Journaling has its inbuilt advantages, but I expanded it into a tool for growing immensely more aware of myself and of others around me. This was not just an indulgent pastime: it became a desperately needed tool as I dealt with inner turmoil.
Not having a friend – in the convent it was even against the rules to form a ‘particular friendship’ – and having a very strict rule of silence to adhere to, my Journal was nothing short of a saver of my sanity. Journaling magic had me even back then.
In my journal, I reasoned my way out of dilemmas; I used strong persuasive powers to keep me in line. I was, and am, a very loyal person. Once committed, I don’t think of turning my back. I loved being in the service of God, although deep down, in recesses I wouldn’t get to until it felt safe enough to do so, I was motivated to please God so as not to be condemned. Journaling gradually made me aware of my motivations. The gift of awareness is indeed one of the great benefits of journaling.
I confided terrible suffering to my journal: the wrench of handing over the presents my poor parents had given me, not knowing I would not see those carefully collected items again…feeling the unrequited (and very illegitimate) love for another sister…and chafing under the orders of stern Superiors that sent me to cold and desolate places. Is it good to feel so intently? Much better to feel as you write than ignore a feeling or suppress it, to be sure.
There came a time of no return that only my journal became privy to. My journal had become a conversationalist; I asked myself questions, I reasoned things out in my answers. They were often tortuous, the answers, because my mind needed guidance from someone wiser than myself to bring wisdom into the picture. As it was, I descended into darkness more and more, but always, always, with that glimmer of hope – a hand outstretched in the shape of a notebook that never failed to bring some light into the scene. That, my friends, is quite a magical thing – to ask yourself questions and find your own answers. In our courses, we’re good at asking the pertinent questions.
Now that I am much older, much more experienced and wiser, my journal is still my daily companion. I use it now to help me take stock of how I’m doing in certain areas of my life that could too easily just slip by with every passing day. I am forever keen to grow, and integrating the new is always an essential part of that. At the end of each day, I have a look at how I communicated with people and ask myself how I could have done it better. That is just one of the questions. It is such a habit now that I would miss this part of my life. It has become a spiritual practice.
Its magic cannot be very well described: it has to be experienced. After some initial clumsiness, perhaps, and self-consciousness, a flow starts and doors swing open to lighten and brighten the enquiring mind. The secret to accessing valuable answers via your journal is to ask pertinent questions! These are most probably questions you wouldn’t ask yourself. Pertinent questions are the ones that invite you to go to unusual places. We’re good at this.
That is what we do. We ask questions. We also sprinkle quite a few stories, poems and articles in each of our Lessons, as fuel for more questions for you to probe. Do you have an enquiring mind? You will by the time you have done at least one course of 8 weeks with us!
Click here to find out more about our new website and our Journaling Course.