On the Journey 001: Writing about “spiritual” writing again

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

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 joncarl.lewis@gmail.com. And together let us continue this journey to rebirth ourselves and the world.

Jon Carl Lewis
Trenton, NJ
Thursday, 29 April 2021

On the Journey 001: Writing about “spiritual” writing again

My Editor, My Critic, My Support

Alfred, helping me with the plot for If Winter Comes.

I am blessed to have an editor and critic with a keen eye and sharp claws but a fuzzy, affectionate manner about him. Here, he is helping me work on the plot of my current novel project. He has not yet told me what he thinks of it, but I’m sure he will.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

Unless otherwise noted, this page and its contents © 2018-2020 Jon Carl Lewis.

My Editor, My Critic, My Support

Book Review: At the Center of All Beauty by Fenton Johnson

At the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative LifeAt the Center of All Beauty: Solitude and the Creative Life by Fenton Johnson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Fenton Johnson in rich, beautiful language has crafted a wonderful exploration of the “solitary” life which, as he demonstrates, can take many forms and shapes but relies on a person’s answering of an unwavering call to beauty, truth and love for all people and all creation. Johnson lays out an expansive vision of what it means to live as to oneself, even in the midst of relationships and society. I found this work to be incredibly affirming and freeing for my spirit, which thrives in solitude even as I manage a complex network of relationships in my external life. This work nourished my creative soul and showed me a path to my best life.

View all my reviews

Book Review: At the Center of All Beauty by Fenton Johnson

Book Review: Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms by Matthias Roberts

Published on Goodreads Wednesday, 15 January 2020 at Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms by Matthias Roberts.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are certain book titles I fall in love with. In fact, I tend to fall in love with good book titles to the extent that I will often buy a book for its title, if not exactly for its cover. The types of titles I find hardest to resist are those titles which strike a chord in my heart—or a nerve. I am a sucker for a title which resonates with and promises to help me navigate deep emotional states which make me uncomfortable or hinder my enjoyment of living my life to the full. Beyond Shame was one of those books for me, especially with such a promising subtitle as “creating a healthy sex life on your own terms.” And even though some of these books sit on the shelf where I can use their titles as a reminder of values I want to incorporate into my life, I’m glad I had the opportunity to look beyond the title and experience the wisdom inside the covers of this book.

Continue reading “Book Review: Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms by Matthias Roberts”
Book Review: Beyond Shame: Creating a Healthy Sex Life on Your Own Terms by Matthias Roberts

Faith seeking understanding #076: Coming face to face with yourself

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by Fares Hamouche on Unsplash

Sometimes, all it takes
Is rounding a corner
To come face-to-face with yourself,
Face to face with your future,
Face to face with your potentials,
Face to face with your truest self.

And you realize
That you’ve been there all along
Waiting for you to drop the mask
And discover yourself anew.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

Unless otherwise noted, this page and its contents © 2018-2020 Jon Carl Lewis.

Faith seeking understanding #076: Coming face to face with yourself

Faith seeking understanding #075: A return, a recommittal, a new resolve

Photo by Taylor Nicole on Unsplash

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Folks who follow me may be surprised to see that I’m writing reflections again under the title of “Faith seeking understanding.” Although I swore off the series and thought I was bringing it to a close in #072: “Goodbye to “Faith seeking understanding”? I couldn’t envision an umbrella for another series that “felt” as right as this one.

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding #075: A return, a recommittal, a new resolve”
Faith seeking understanding #075: A return, a recommittal, a new resolve

Faith seeking understanding #074: Give me success… but not yet!

Photo by Ian Kim on Unsplash

“Nothing succeeds like success.”

This is what we are led to believe by Sir Arthur Helps, who wrote these words in his book Realmah, published in 1868. For a long time, I had been inclined to agree with this sentiment. Then a minor success happened to me, and it really shut me down.

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding #074: Give me success… but not yet!”
Faith seeking understanding #074: Give me success… but not yet!

Faith seeking understanding: #073: Will my life even matter?

Photo by Scott Rodgerson on Unsplash

Life is short. I think that’s true for everyone, but especially for some who aren’t “supposed” to die as soon as they do—as if we had a choice or a say in the matter. One of those persons who I don’t believe was “supposed” to die was Rachel Held Evans who died early Saturday morning, 04 May 2019. She had fallen ill with the flu, had a very bad reaction to the antibiotics she had been given, was placed in a medically-induced coma, and didn’t survive being brought out of it. She leaves behind a husband, Dan, and two daughters, aged three- and almost one-year old. She was 37.

Continue reading “Faith seeking understanding: #073: Will my life even matter?”
Faith seeking understanding: #073: Will my life even matter?

Day 001/100. An introduction to me: a queer/gay, Black, Christian intellectual writer… and the limitations of identity

Jon Carl Lewis. Photo by Cie Stroud. May 2016.
Jon Carl Lewis. Photo by Cie Stroud. May 2016.

Please allow me to introduce myself at the beginning of this hundred-day undertaking: my name is Jon Carl Lewis, and I identify as a queer/gay, Black, Christian, intellectual writer. I am cisgender and my pronouns are he/him/his. At the time of this writing I am approaching my mid-fifties and sort of smugly glad I haven’t reached the exact midpoint of that decade (I tell myself I have things I need to accomplish before then). I am transitioning spiritually from the first half of life to the second half of life, and I hope I’m doing it gracefully (see Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life).

Continue reading “Day 001/100. An introduction to me: a queer/gay, Black, Christian intellectual writer… and the limitations of identity”
Day 001/100. An introduction to me: a queer/gay, Black, Christian intellectual writer… and the limitations of identity

Faith seeking understanding #071: What I learned from skipping a day of writing… or two… or three…

Faith seeking understanding, my personal journey towards a deeper knowledge of and intimacy with God, the cosmos, humanity and myself through thoughts, words and (occasionally) images, is a series of [hopefully] daily reflections I’m writing with the purpose of publishing something on a regular basis for others to read, either here, at joncarllewis.com or among my writings at Medium.com.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Breaking my writing streak and skipping a day of writing taught me a lot. That missed day turned into a week of erratic writing, much of which produced no writing at all.

But I’m not going to beat myself up. I’m feeling okay with having broken the chain after reflection number 70, but the most important lesson I learned from the experience is that I am happier when I write every day. When I don’t have the expectation that I am going to write every day, I found that I, simply, didn’t write. Or, if I did write, I wrote sporadically. This doesn’t make me as happy as much as writing every day (or, every night, in my case).

Nevertheless, the break in flow taught me a few things that I’d like to remember going forward.

I need to write every day

First, I realized, as I stated above, that I need to write every day. Trying to write every other day, or a few days a week, or when I feel like it, just doesn’t work. I need to face the page and reflect every day.

I need to start writing even when I don’t know what I am going to write about

After I was away for a couple of days away, I became frightened of starting up again because I didn’t know what I was going to say. Of course, when I was writing every day, I often wasn’t sure what I was going to say until I started typing nonsense and somehow, magically found my way to writing reflections for 71 days in a row. I need to trust that the muse will meet me if I am faithful and let her know where I am going to be every day.

I need to remember the connection I have with my readers

I felt a special bond with my readers when I was writing every day. I knew that there was someone there listening to what I was typing, and that was a comfort to me. Of course, some days that made me self-conscious and worried about what I would produce and how it would be received. Nevertheless, for the most part, it felt good to connect with others across time and space. I need to be faithful to my readers so that we can encourage each other.

I don’t need to write a lot

I must remember that the idea is not to create perfect, long-winded essays (can they be perfect essays if they are long-winded?) but short reflections on a variety of topics. My original goal was to write two sentences a day. Most days I couldn’t stop at two sentences. In fact, I don’t think I ever stopped at two sentences. But a two-sentence reflection is quite allowed. I need to remember that it’s not the quantity that matters, it’s the honesty.

There are other things I learned, I am sure, but I can’t think of what they are.

Suffice to say, I am back to my nightly regimen.

I can sleep well tonight, knowing that I have accomplished one thing, stretched my writing muscles just a little bit, and communicated with someone from my heart to theirs.

Because the most important thing I learned from taking time off is the first thing I learned: writing on a regular basis—which, for me, means every day—just makes me happy. I hope that reading what I have written will make you happy too.

Thank you for your time and attention.
I’d love to know your thoughts on what you’ve read.
Please comment, below, or email me at joncarllewis@gmail.com.
May God richly bless you on your journey.

Unless otherwise noted, this page and its contents © 2018-2020 Jon Carl Lewis.

Faith seeking understanding #071: What I learned from skipping a day of writing… or two… or three…