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Spirit writing

Make visible what you believe by putting it to paper

By Carolyn Pogue

Most people I know have made a will and some plans — detailed or not — about what happens when they die. One kid gets grandma’s necklace; another gets the pocket watch. Right. But there are other things we leave behind at death. Invisible things. Our values and how we make meaning. My friend, Doreen Orman, and I are inviting a circle of friends who don’t mind talking about spiritual matters to join us in making visible some of these things. When we first broached this subject, some friends felt that it sounded too big a task. So, we broke it down with free fall writing and a prompt. You may like to try it, too.

You might think of it as a letter to the future, a message to your faith community or family, or a simple exercise in learning more about what you believe deep down. A famous scribe once wrote, “How can I know what I think unless I write it down?” This is good to do on your own, but it’s also great with a partner or in a group.

Aim for between 250 and 500 words. Don’t think too hard. Don’t worry if your words don’t sound biblical, holy or lofty. Just write from your heart. Here’s how:

1. Use the washroom and unplug the phone.

2. While the tea kettle is heating to a boil, find a fast pen and notebook, or turn on your computer.

3. Pour your tea and get comfortable.

4. Choose one of the following questions to answer.

5. Set the stove timer for 10 minutes.

6. Sit and write as quickly as you can. Don’t edit; just go. If you get stuck, write: "what I really want to say is. . . . " and keep going. You can edit and fluff around with it after the timer goes off, but not before. Do not worry if you write something unrelated to the topic — just follow your spirit wherever it takes you. Keep going (writing quickly means that the critical editor part of your brain that wants to complain or rob you of pleasure hasn’t time to catch up to you.)

7. Remember that your grade 4 teacher will not mark this. You are free!

Choose one question:

When have you had an aha moment, an epiphany?

When have you had a spiritual experience with or in Nature?

In a spiritual sense, what does water mean to you?

What do you believe happens after death? How did you reach this conclusion?

Have you experienced a visit from an angel or from someone deceased? Write what happened and how you felt.

Who is your most present biblical or spiritual guide? Why?

If you have a totem or power animal — mineral of plant — write about it.

What is prayer to you? Where do you pray? How did you learn to pray?

When have you been forgiven, and when have you forgiven?

What do you believe about dreams?

If you have prayed with a child, what was that like? If you have not, describe what you'd like to teach a small child about prayer.

When did you stop believing that God is a name for an old white man in the sky?  How did that affect you?

What is your idea of a perfect Christmas or Easter?

What do you wish for the future church?

You may decide to keep your collection of answers with your will, bind it into a book and gift to family members and friends, or just place it in your church library. Either way, enjoy!

Author's photo
Carolyn Pogue is a longtime Observer contributor. New posts of The Pogue Blog will appear on the first and third Thursday of the month. For more information on Carolyn Pogue, visit www.carolynpogue.ca..
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