This past Summer, I had the opportunity to take a spiritual writing course through the Creative Nonfiction Magazine website. Our class explored the ins and outs of writing as a spiritual discipline. Our writing and class reading focused on creating pieces of different styles, from alternative perspectives, and varying word counts. The writing assignments helped us shape a draft by the end of the course.
While taking care of my Mom after her hip replacement surgery, I worked on completing a couple of essays that I initially began writing during my Summer writing course. Essays require a lot of thought. You don’t just get an idea and shoot out an essay. Writing in general rarely works that way. That’s true whether you write fiction or nonfiction.
Spiritual writing is a challenging endeavor anytime you pursue it. It requires that the writer is willing to go deep, uncovering what lies under the boulders of past experiences. Meaningful spiritual writing must dig deep beneath the surface. The challenge for the spiritual writer, which I think is shared by the memoir author, is to find the courage to work through the pains of the past to uncover the transformed diamond hidden underneath. At its best, spiritual writing reveals the way it was before God and unveils how it is now but God.
No doubt, our individual understanding of God varies from person to person. That certainly proved to be true among the students participating in my writing class. Prior to my addiction recovery, my understanding of God was different from what my understanding of God is today, twenty-five years later. Our spiritual journeys consist of new beginnings, second chances, and numerous twists and turns. Naturally, our individual stories shed new light on our collective understanding of that universal mystery we call God.
Recently, I’ve been re-reading “The Screwtape Letters,” by C.S. Lewis. In this satirical fiction work dedicated to J.R.R. Tolkien, Lewis explores Christian theological issues, particularly the snares of temptation and how to avoid them. Lewis understood we were engaged in a spiritual battle between Good and Evil against an Enemy from an unseen realm.
The story unfolds over the course of 31 letters written by Screwtape, a senior demon, to his nephew Wormwood, a young demon, wet behind the ears. Wormwood is charged with derailing the spiritual journey of a recent Christian convert. The book contains a series of important lessons about what it means to live intentionally as a Christian and the spiritual warfare that ensues once we determine to live a life in Christ. The book examines the typical human failings, shortcomings, and temptations we all face on our own spiritual path.
First published in 1942, “The Screwtape Letters” is a work of Christian apologetics intended to delve deeper into a myriad of theological issues. I imagine that at some point, Lewis, who had great difficulty writing the book, decided that fiction served his spiritual quest better than nonfiction.
Spiritual nonfiction means as a writer I am willing to bare my soul, exposing my human maladies and spiritual shortcomings. It often means I’m willing to pick at the scabs of old wounds better left untouched in order to share the transformational beauty of a passionate and gracious God who loved me enough to pursue me and lay a way for my reconciliation with Him. Redemption is a story worth sharing.
The spiritual writing course I took through Creative Nonfiction Magazine yielded a lot of fruit and many blessings. Our instructor, Jonathan Callard, stretched us and showed us how to go deep. A number of my classmates contributed inspiring works and encouraging words. I’m grateful for the opportunity to stay connected to them. Encountering them along my spiritual journey has enriched my writing quest.
1. Do you maintain a spiritual writing practice to help you explore and record your spiritual journey?
2. Have you taken a spiritual writing course?
3. Who are some of your favorite spiritual writers?
4. Who are some of your favorite faith bloggers?
5. How can I encourage you today?
Father God, thank You for the gift of writing and the blessing of words to help us make sense of our individual spiritual journeys. May we take the gifts and blessings You provide and employ them for the praise of Your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
May the Lord shower You with His grace and mercy. May your spiritual journey continue to help you grow in your understanding of God.
The Devotional Guy™
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