Journaling is a part of many spiritual traditions. You may keep a journal to record your reading of sacred texts, the writing of your prayers, your meditations, or your reflections on your own personal journey.
As a Christian, I was introduced to journaling as a spiritual discipline through Anne Broyles’ Journaling: A Spiritual Journey. I found the book in the hall of the dorm at the Christian college I attended in Massachusetts as I was cleaning out my room to leave after graduating. Someone had left it behind. I took it home to Pennsylvania and read it.
Broyles’ book offers six approaches for journaling:
- from the events of everyday life
- in response to scripture
- with guided meditations
- from dreams
- in response to reading
- from conversations or dialogues
Searching for my first full-time job during the summer of 1991 when many of my classmates had chosen graduate school due to the recession, I found myself arguing with God in the journal I started that I saw no leading in my life. I prayed for guidance.
I interviewed at Dunn and Bradstreet in the city of Scranton near where I lived. I was called back for a second interview. They said they would call me.
While I was waiting and continuing to write out my frustrations in my journal, my older sister called and invited my parents and I to come to her house and help her pick tomatoes from a local farm for my mother to can.
As we were nearing Shartlesville, the town where my sister lived at the time, my father suddenly announced that he wanted some Stripples, a brand of fake bacon not widely available back in the 1990s. (This was before Morning Star Farms’ Breakfast Strips became widely available.) He pulled off the road to Shartlesville at the campus of Blue Mountain Academy, the boarding Seventh-day Adventist high school I had attended. There was a health food store on the campus that sold the product he was hankering.
While my parents went into the the store, I walked over to the administration building to see if any of my old teachers were around. I ran into Mr. Edison who had taught me geometry, string bass lessons, and band. He greeted me with a smile and asked me how I was doing. Then he inquired, “Didn’t you just graduate with a degree in English and a minor in religion? You need to go see the principal right now. We’re looking for someone to teach those two subjects.”
Suddenly I could hear music from the old television show Twilight in my head. I went to the principal’s wearing my old clothes I had chosen to go tomato picking. His secretary didn’t keep me waiting long. I found myself in a job interview.
Near the end of our conversation, I said, “If I was to consider working here, I would want to attend some teacher’s meetings or classes and get a feel for how things are at the school now.”
“Well,” he replied, “can you be here tomorrow morning at eight?”
“Yes, I think I can,” I said as I hurried off to explain to my parents.
A week later, I taught my first high school English class and have been teaching English ever since. That was a distinctive moment in my personal faith journey and a reason I believe journal writing can lead you to unexpected places.