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Write In Order To Heal
Once a Week
It is tempting, and yet sometimes dangerous, to proselytize on the basis of personal experience alone; it might just be personal taste, after all. Still, what do we have to share with others aside from our own experience? With that caveat, this week I write to commend to you, dear readers, the gift of writing.
“By writing I myself have learned much that I did not know,” Augustine of Hippo wrote in his theological classic On the Trinity. What a statement. Much of what Augustine knew was only learned through writing. He was a theologian, but it would be a mistake to limit his statement to scholarly abstraction. For example, surely there was much he learned about God, about himself, and about his relationship with God, through writing his Confessions.
Or consider this from Flannery O’Connor: “I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don’t know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it all over again.”
This happens every time I write for this newsletter. I never know what I’m trying to say until I try to say it. The same thing can be said about thinking and feeling. Which is why journaling is a fundamental tool for soul care.
Writing serves as a conversation with the self. In drama this is known as soliloquy, literally “to speak alone.” Actually, the term was coined by Augustine himself in one of his earliest works, Soliloquies, in which he holds an ongoing dialogue with himself as a form of therapy. Perhaps that is why the sons of Korah didn’t just sing Psalm 42, they wrote it:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11)
Quotation from Martin Luther
If you want to change the world, pick up your pen and write.
What happened? What do you think? What do you feel? You don’t need the answers to those questions before writing. Instead, write, and you’ll find the answers.
Praying for and laboring with you,