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Monday, June 12, 2017

Living at the Core 4: Spiritual Notebook

I firmly believe in the power of writing to facilitate learning and have used writing to navigate my thinking about different aspects of my life over time. Though I had been keeping a spiritual notebook off an on since the summer of 2015, when we started a new liturgical year last November, I committed to reflecting on daily Scriptures each day. Writing about my faith is my current most predominant writing territory.

My two main spiritual notebook habits are that when I read the daily readings as part of my 5 am routine, I make note of verses I love, verses that make me think, verses that bring comfort... Sometimes I also do some journaling about what I think the Scriptures are conveying, questions I have, how they relate to my life, or ways they encourage me to persevere or to improve.

Then, after Mass I prefer when I have a little bit of time to capture my priest's key ideas from the homily. I note how his thoughts complemented mine or how they helped to deepen my thinking. I also reflect on books I am reading or making sense of different layers of my life. Sundays are the exception. When I go to Mass with my whole family, I do not have the luxury of that quiet space for reflection and greater Mass attendance on Sundays means the church is not as quiet immediately after Mass anyway.

Carving out time for regular writing in quiet spaces means thinking intentionally about what is accessible within my typical days. I need to find places  that are conducive to writing within close proximity of where I am already at. Though I usually write in the church after Mass, one day last week I spent a little bit of time in a quiet space on campus. I love being out in fresh air, especially when it is one of those not too hot, not too cold perfect spring days.


While I will still be able to continue with my writing at home, soon there will be less consistency with my writing directly after Mass. During the summer I will likely have a combination of work days and family days. On family days, I will often bring one or both of my little girls (1 and 4 years old) to Mass, making it challenging to be able to sit, focus, and write afterward. One of my older daughters also expressed a goal to dedicate more time to God this summer by attending daily Mass and going to Adoration with me sometimes. Then, once the school year starts, it appears that I will have my 4 year old with me for almost every daily Mass prior to dropping her off at preschool.

Living at the core means discovering the rhythms and routines of life that help us to live comparatively more peacefully based on nurturing our relationship with God, while also recognizing that as circumstances shift we need to let go and create new habits that align to the current circumstances. We also need to focus on what is beautiful about shifts, rather than longing for the comforts of previous routines. The beauty in the summer will often be linked to nurturing my girls' faith formation by attending daily Mass together, as well as walks after Mass and time at home without having as many outside obligations. In the fall it will be about providing access for my third daughter to attend a pre-school with a strong focus on Biblical stories.

The beauty is all about relationships and recognizing that sometimes to nurture my girls' faith formation, it means I have to be willing to change some of the rhythms and routines of my day that bring so much comfort and help me to feel centered. Instead, I need to get creative and think about how I can still find that sense of peace while transitioning to something new. The specific habits might not look the same; however, I know that prioritizing my spiritual notebook has had its benefits, and as needed, I will rediscover how to layer it into my life through different phases.

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