Several people have asked me recently about my writing method. Writing method? I don’t think so.
But, upon reflection, I can see that I probably do have a method, although it may be somewhat unorthodox.
It started when I was a child, maybe ten or eleven, when I got a diary, one of those hard-cover books with lined pages and a lock. I poured out my deepest hopes and fears on those pages, until the day my older brother found it, broke the lock and read it. From then until my twenties, I did not commit anything personal to paper. I kept writing, but only in my mind.
In my twenties, I began journaling, but I was still cautious about what I wrote down—in case there was a repeat of the diary episode. I was still processing my deepest hopes and fears, but they didn’t make it to paper; I wrote about deeper issues in my mind.
At some point, I realized that I was constantly writing in my mind, creating content that would never be committed to paper. Most anything could spark a reflection which became an essay.
It wasn’t until my late forties that I actually wrote and submitted an essay for publication.
At lunch, sharing this with my friend, I said, “I can write about most anything,” and then, picking up a bottle of water from the table, I said glibly, “even this bottle of water.”
The next day, the bottle of water came back to me, and I wondered if, in fact, a water bottle could be a writing prompt. Then I remembered this:
At Easter Sunday Mass, the priest used a peace lily as a visual aid. He shared that this plant had come into his life his first week as pastor, twenty-seven years ago. He has divided and repotted it several times over the years, but the real key to keeping it healthy is that once a week, he fills a bottle with water and pours it into the plant.
He analogized the weekly watering of this plant with tending to our spiritual life. I realized he was mainly speaking to those people who only come to church on Easter and Christmas, but his homily made me think of how I tend to my spiritual life.
Before meeting for lunch with my friend last week, I had seen my spiritual director for our monthly meeting, one way I tend to my spiritual life. Once a year, I go on a retreat for a more in-depth watering of my spirit. Daily prayer, weekly church attendance, monthly spiritual direction and annual retreat, four components of how I tend my spirit.
And reflection—whether I am walking, knitting, baking or gardening—any quiet time can provide quality reflection time.
How about you? How do you tend your spiritual life? And do you have a particular writing method?
So, Megan, yes, even a water bottle can be the prompt for a reflection. This one is for you.