It has been a long time since I wandered in this direction, but it’s time to face the fact that I am working on a book project again. Not that this is a surprise to me; I’ve been researching my topic for over a year and have spent the past several months agonizing over how to whip that research into a coherent outline.
The surprise, if any, is that I feel the need once more to reflect on this writing process as a way of continuing to move things forward. When I was focused on writing fiction, I found it helpful to chronicle the emotional side of my journey—if only as a way of blowing off steam. Now, as someone who is writing explicitly about spirituality, I feel it is even more necessary to take the time and create the space to contemplate the process of not only birthing a creation into the world but creating a guide that will help people begin or continue a journey themselves.
Much has changed for me in the past couple of years. Several years ago, I was determined to make it as a novelist, wrapping what faint glimpses of spiritual truth as were granted to me in entertaining storylines, with characters that were (and still are) as real to me as close friends, placed in settings carefully disguised to conceal my autobiographical leanings. But I realized that this was going to be a long road. Too long a road, in fact, for me to make it my whole identity and occupation, as I wished it to be.
So I answered another call, a call to minister to people more immediately as a spiritual director. Spiritual directors need not be coy about the fact that one is concerned with matters of the spirit (the real trick is remembering that matters of the spirit are firmly grounded in matters of the flesh). I entered what would be a three-year process, one year in spiritual direction myself, and two years in basic training while directing others. My two years of basic training comes to an end at the end of next week. I have thoroughly enjoyed it—thanks be to God! And although I am going to do a third, supplemental year (they call it a “deepening” year), I find I have emerged from this process and the forced hermitage of 2020 as the person I had hoped to become through becoming a novelist: someone qualified to have something to say about spiritual matters.
And so, in addition to walking alongside others on their spiritual journeys, I have responded to the call, again, to somehow wrap what few, dim insights I have been given in language that moves people to insights of their own, or at least the pursuit of their own insights.
Forgive me for being coy about the subject matter of my new writing efforts; when I am in this space it really doesn’t matter what type of spiritual writing I am doing. In fact, this space is a place for me to escape from my subject matter for a few minutes a day and get some fresh air and distance. Perhaps I hope to gain some perspective during the time away from keeping my nose myopically to the grindstone of my narrow, little niche.
Here is a place for me to focus on the bigger picture: how my writing fits into my life. Especially my spiritual life. Writing for me is contemplation. It is my attempt to take a long, loving look at what I think is real. In order for me to be grounded in true reality, I need to be painfully and joyously aware of the location I inhabit. Hence, I reflect in this manner to dig even deeper. I dig ever deeper to find my soul, to touch that molten lava at the core of my being so I may be transformed by its fire and return with useful heat and light to share.
Thank you for coming along with me on this journey. I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own spiritual journey, your own attempt to connect with the divine in ways that enliven you for service to humanity out of great and powerful love.
Please comment, below, or send your thoughts to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And together let us continue this journey to rebirth ourselves and the world.
Jon Carl Lewis
Thursday, 29 April 2021