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Your vision will become clear
only when you can look
into your own heart.
Who looks outside, dreams;
who looks inside, awakes.
(Carl Jung)

Nancy Mairs, who wrote the book Ordinary Time, explains that the only way she can understand her life is “through language, learning line by line as the words compose me. Other people,” she says, “may have developed different and more efficient strategies, but in order to know anything at all, I have to write a book.”

That is exactly the reason I write. I write to hear myself think. The world around me is too noisy. It drowns out that important stuff that’s floating around in my brain. I need those thoughts to seep from my gray matter down through my heart into my arms, my fingers, and flow into my pen where the ink can puddle on the page in something I can recognize and say, “Oh! That’s what I meant!”

For years journaling for me was a very solitary thing. I found it easy to let the words spill out onto the page. I didn’t need anyone else to read them. And though I found them enlightening and often instructive, I also often found I got STUCK in the same place over and over again trying to learn why I did things that I did. What I wanted was to understand myself so I could “unlearn” unhealthy behaviors. I needed something more. Literally.

I stumbled across Something More by Sarah Ban Breathnach and learned how to have an interactive relationship with a book. I would read one of the short essays every day then comment on what I’d read in my journal. I’d write about what I’d learned about myself, my needs, my wants. It took me almost a year to journal through it.

I fell in love with that way of journaling and writing, so when I was done, I chose another book, which I mentioned yesterday, In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan L. Richardson. Her book was different. While Something More had been what I’d call “spiritual,” In the Sanctuary of Women made some “religious” assumptions I was already struggling with. And before I knew it I was talking BACK to the book, scribbling my irritation furiously in my spiral notebook. It was as if the person I’d learned I was in the first book was now challenging the person I’d always been as seen clearly in the second.

What a learning experience.

As the two me’s have drawn closer together and begun to meld into one (which I think is a really healthy thing), I found I was beginning to have a hunger to share the writing experience with like-minded people to see how this new improved version of myself perceived the world. That’s what I’m doing HERE. That’s why I’m writing on this blog, to further my personal and emotional education and decide if the wrestling match I’ve had with Jacob’s angel over the past couple years has produced any lasting fruit. It’s been fascinating to observe my reactions to folks I’ve met on here. I’ve been pleased to find I’m a much more open and tolerant person than I spent a lot of church years being. Being on here has taught me how wonderful people really are.

In her book In Wisdom’s Path, which I’m now journaling through, Richardson talks about that. She says she often felt when she was in a community (she was speaking specifically of a church community) like she was “standing in a river, dying of thirst.” She goes on talk about how there are so many people with so many stories, especially on the margins. And we don’t hear them if we’re just standing there. We need to connect.

No greater agonyBeing on this blog, in THIS community has taught me that. Everyone carries a story inside them that would break your heart if you knew it. That’s where connection starts. There’s nothing more lonely than carrying those stories all by yourself, be they good or bad. So I’ve come here to hear yours. I’m so honored many of you have shared them with me.

I don’t know why YOU write, but I hope with all my heart you learn something from hearing yourself think and then share that knowledge with folks around you. We become a caring community by taking a hand, one person at a time. That’s a model I wish the world at large understood.