Today I am excited to feature a guest post on journaling, written by Cassandra Frear. Cassandra blogs at The MoonBoat Cafe. Thanks, Cassandra!
All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.
- Blaise Pascal
The place where my soul rests is a private world. I step into it whenever I shed the noise of the world outside with it's labors and concerns. Like Alice stepping through the looking glass, I find here a world that is reflective of the real one, but a world that rests only in my mind. Or does it? Is there more to it than that?
For here are memories as vivid as the day they happened. Here are ideas which rise up before me as real as flesh and blood. Here is the Lord Himself, present with me. Thoughts, addressed directly to me, appear in my mind -- thoughts I know I did not create for myself. Here is the still, small whisper of the Designer of the Universe, so sought after and so hard to hear in other places. Here beauty fills the very air around me. Majesty enfolds me. Storms are stilled.
Here I find my strength, and I find rest for my soul.
My heart, which I hardly notice elsewhere, moves within me as a vibrant, living thing. I notice how it is. I see what I have been doing with new eyes. I see the world within my world, and how the choices I make, the actions I take, come from the very center of my being. There are reasons why I struggle, and why I win victories. Here, I know that the very wellspring of life flows through and from that secret, invisible self who lives and breathes with my every move.
Who am I when no one watches? Where do I go when the day around me hushes, deep in the evening? What does my mind do when my hands rest? It matters. For nothing of worth happens apart from my soul. No real victories, no real work, can be done apart from the center.
There is nothing more essential to a life well-lived than a vibrant, inner world.
But it must be cultivated, it must be grown, lovingly and carefully over time. Here lies the secret of secret places that few understand: you can create, over time, the inner world that inspires, that comforts, that endures, by choosing well what you place there. You make your private world, and then, over the years, it makes you.
Through ministry, I've had the privilege of observing many lives from an intimate perspective. The biggest lesson I have learned from others is this: a rich, private world creates a meaningful and beautiful life. There are no exceptions to this rule. Without a private world that has been cultivated, it is impossible to remain fully alive amidst the pressures of a fallen world. We cannot gain strength and depth and vitality by borrowing it from someone else. We cannot obtain it by purchasing interesting things and experiences. Other lives can inspire. Experiences can instruct. But we must learn to be still with our own souls, to choose our place of rest, to tend to our thoughts.
Without this, we will become empty. We will live, without ever having truly lived, and we will pass from this life with profound regret.
Our modern culture does not encourage us to sit still, to reflect. If anything, it pulls us away from meditation. The sheer variety and level of noise in our lives often keeps us from being quiet. A lack of experience creates uncertainty. How to do it? Where to start? Many of us have trouble just sitting still, alone, for a few minutes.
For me, a personal journal has been the gateway into a vibrant private world. It's been the tool I needed to find my own soul. There is something about the written word. We were made for it and it for us. With page and pen, I was able to be still and to pour my soul out and see it. I was able to hear my own voice and the voice of my Savior coming back to me in simple thoughts and ideas. There had been a conversation happening for some time, but I did not notice, did not attend, did not respond.
When I began writing, it came to me in black and white, and that changed everything.
Copyright 2010 by Cassandra Frear.