Creativity As A Spiritual Practice

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June = Journals

On June 11th,  I posted a question for your response.  It was “How many different forms of journals do you keep?  I also revealed my early longing for a journal that was similar to a ship’s log, and a search for the appropriate containers to reflect upon creativity, spirituality and life.

My own response is that I never found one container that held all that I wanted held.  My ultimate solution was to carfully choose journals as containers for all that I wish to reflect upon.

Currently I have a journal for:

  1. An art journal of personal thoughts, spiritual reflection as well as creative expression.
  2. A HUGE art journal for an on-line creativity and business class
  3. A notebook journal for dialogues with a  particular expressive arts canvas.  The painting also is a journal in its own right.
  4. A notebook journal for an on-line marketing group
  5. A notebook journal for medical appointments and comments that I am keeping on behalf of a family member
  6. I have a leather journal that I take with me to take notes at conferences and events.
  7. I record quotations that are meaningful to me as a journal page on my computer.
  8. In any and all of these I may reflect upon my life, my relationship with God, my relationships with others, my creativity, my joys or my fears.   At times I have more than these journals actively in use.  But this listing is a good one.  While mostly in sequential order, the journal entries may at times invite additions by using another color of pen or by employing collage techniques.  They are neither pretty nor ugly and certainly not written in precise cursive script.   Rather, they are places of energy and transformation.

I do not intend for my journals to be historical records, rather the purpose of my journals are to provide places of personal wrestling, discovery, and creativity.   I believe that journals can be holy spaces and that the process of keeping a journal is a potentially transformational and holy process.  At this time, this is what works for me.

I don’t share this as advice to follow my style.  Rather, I hope that you might look at where you do engage in reflection, what forms you may use, and how you record your process.   I trust that if your are journaling in any form, and are feeling that you have a place express yourself, your own process is working.  If your desire is for a spiritual connection, a place of prayer, and the process is working for you, please continue.  If you believe that you do not currently journal, I invite you to look more broadly at the process.  Perhaps you do in ways that you may not have considered.

A journal can have such a simple format, a piece of paper (lined or un-lined), a pen or pencil, and willingness (or need) to write.

However, your journal may also be a video, a camera, typed on-line, painted, sculpted or may be expressed in a garden landscape.  I heard earlier this week of a person whose quilts are their journal.  The importance appears to be consistency, a willingness to record in some way where one is at this particular moment, a willingness to reflect, a willingness to listen, as well as a willingness to change or be transformed.

What do you think?







Creativity As A Spiritual Practice

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June = Journals

Many years ago, when I was a teen-ager, a frequent gift to another girl was a diary.  the diary usually had  a pastel cover and an all important lock, with a tiny key.  The pages were lined, with spaces indicated for each entry.  The amount of space for each entry was a total of about an 1 1/2 inches height by about 4 inches width.   This space on which to write was ridiculously tiny.  Perhaps you remember these?

In a digital age, I imagine that these books are far too restrictive to a tech-savvy young person.

However, these books are a reminder of the importance of privacy.  If you are to write about your truth as you experience it in the moment, privacy is one element that becomes invaluable.   My request is that you honor and respect that need in yourself.

Yes, there are diaries and journals that have been published.  And yes, these diaries or journals can provide an invaluable entry point into history including the daily life, spiritual practices, hopes, dreams and concerns of the person writing.  Some have even been written deliberately to be found and shared.

Still, that is not the case for most of us.

If you are to write, or learn to write, from your own truth, be careful who you share it with by respecting your own need for privacy.

And one more thought.

Should you wish to, or have reason to, let go of journals that you have kept in the past.  Please let go of them with care, as you would any valuable document.

Creativity As A Spiritual Response


June = Journal

Writers are encouraged to keep a journal.  Journal writing  creates a space in which other writing can emerge.  Artists too, are encouraged to keep a sketchbook of images they draw.  Writing, as well as images are most often recorded and dated sequentially.  Perhaps by giving voice, and certainly by providing opportunities for reflection, these practices aid creativity.

Whether or not we describe ourselves as writers or artists, most of us have and use a cell phone to record images.  These images may be shared, may be printed, but most often remain on the individual cell phone.

Do these images themselves, dated sequentially, become a journal?  What do you think?  Are they a journal that is kept on the phone, added to, but rarely reflected upon?  Is it possible that reflection upon these images might become a catalyst for creativity?  What might be the result of this practice?  Please comment.


Creativity As A Spiritual Response

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June = Journals

The following is a brief ,and certainly not exclusive, list of journal writing opportunities:

  1. when reflecting on one’s past life or future goals
  2. while in the midst of major life events such as graduations, weddings, births of children or grandchildren, illness, divorce, and terminal illness.
  3. when feeling confused, irritated, or afraid
  4. when feeling overwhelmed with the news, local and world events and tragedies
  5. when traveling
  6. when reflecting upon and responding to a book one has read
  7. when reading scripture verses or other spiritual writing
  8. when praying
  9. when learning something new or establishing a new practice
  10. when practicing gratitude.

Creativity As A Spiritual Practice

June = Journal

By now, you may we wondering what is up with the journals?  It is almost half-way through the month, and this blog is still about journals.  Yes, it is!

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I am inviting you

to journey with me on a two-year plus path of exploring creativity as a spiritual practice.  Together, we will be exploring one topic a month.  I hope that this exploration encourages your own exploration, your own discovery, your own reflections as well as your own artistic and creative expressions

So why did I begin with looking at journals, and keeping journals as a process?  My supposition was that we might need a container, or containers to give space, even a little space, to the places we might venture together.  Journals are time-honored containers for such kinds of adventures.  They are certainly one important item in a spiritual and creative “tool kit”.

At the end of the month, I will introduce the next topic.  Until then, it will be primarily blogging on the topic of journals.  Other offerings related to the topics are being imagined and produced.  I will introduce them as they are ready.

Please comment, ask questions, or make suggestions!    I love taking a journey with companions such as yourself!


Creativity As A Spiritual Response

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June = Journals

Many years ago I imagined the ideal journal and method of journaling.  The ideal journal would have a blue cover and the writing within would emulate the style of ship’s logs – just the facts of the day – neatly recorded daily, on lined paper, in beautiful cursive script.  This would be truly a collector’s item for those of later generations to learn from and reference.  For those for whom this is a natural style and preference, I wish you all the best.  It isn’t mine.

Therefore, I went on a search for what was the ideal journal for me.  As an artist, I needed space to draw images, paint, and write about what was happening in my life.  I attempted keeping two journals, one for artistic images and a different one for writing.  This had the effect of separating the expression in one form from the other.  I found it wasn’t ideal as one expression was often leading to the other, or reflecting on it.

As a spiritual person, I also desired a place to reflect upon Scripture and spiritual writing, prayer and what was happening in my daily life.   Through the centuries, journals have been used in precisely this manner.  However, often this became a third journal that was self-consciously written,  and only rarely contained images.

I did come to a solution, or rather solutions, to this dilemma.  I do find that the process is an evolving one as my definition of what constitutes a journal widens.   I have certainly moved sailed far away from the tidy ship’s log that I imagined earlier with all its inherent constraints.

What I do know now is that the process of choosing a journal is highly individualistic.  What works for me, might not work for you.  And, your way may not be mine.  That is a good thing if we are to freely reflect upon our own individual feelings, concerns, and growing places.  If someone suggests a way of keeping a journal that is an ideal method for them ask yourself: does their method fit the person that you are, or are becoming?  If not, keep exploring.

May the process of keeping a journal be an open one.


Creativity As A Spiritual Response

June = Journals

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I am beginning to explore the history of journals and how they have been employed.  I believe that the earliest journals may have been cave walls. I love the images and wonder at the meaning of these ancient paintings.

However, my assumption is that journal keeping is most often tied to economic affluence, education, gender, and the availability of paper.

I also presume that the luxury of an inner life that could be reflected upon and expressed to oneself is something that the majority of people who were educationally illiterate would not have seen as a possibility.  Their inner life was not expressed in this modality and died with them.

Journal writing often reflects an inherent classism, including the luxury of time and leisure to engage in reflection to explore one’s personal thoughts and feelings.  It also reflects a sense of self that is able to reflect on internal and external events in a written form that is private and only rarely shared with others.  We, who have grown up with spiritual practices, psychological theories and the importance of an inner life are inheritors of freedom of expression that millions simply have never had.

So, for those of us who have struggled to find our voices and who use journals to privately explore creative expression, meaning, healing and purpose we do so with an awareness of the many through time for whom this was not, and is not, an option.  We can value our privacy,  and deeply engage in our own private creative expressions that emerge on paper through writing, painting, poetry and collage.  And, we can encourage others to do the same.