Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Genre of Spiritual Writing.

Retreats have always been an important part of my life. They began in High School where each year our class had a day away from school, visiting a property in isolated terrain. We had an opportunity for individual quiet time, group sharing and listening to an inspiring speaker.

As a young adult I continued the tradition of setting set aside time for an annual retreat. I've had the opportunity to visit some beautiful monasteries and religious houses who specialize in hospitality just for that purpose. I could be away for up to a week, soaking in the silence and participating in the prayerful chants that are part of the Religious life style.

As my responsibilities in life increased I count it fortunate if I have one day a year, not one week, to spend with me and my Lord.

As Christian writers I believe we all have that innate desire to connect our spiritual life with our writing life. A favourite spiritual writer of mine stated that, 'If you want to improve your prayer life, try writing. If you want to improve your writing life, try praying. (Ed Cyzewski 'Pray Write Grow: Cultivating Prayer and Writing Together).

When I first began to take my writing seriously I knew that it was important, regardless of the genre I chose, to maintain that sense of contemplation in my writing. I commenced my blog, '10 Minute Daily Retreat,' to keep myself faithful to writing and prayer. At the time I thought even if no one else is blessed, I will pray and allow my reflection to flow from that prayer.

I have also tried to develop the reflections so that they don't talk about God, but introduce the reader to experience a loving, powerful God. I think I'm a long way from that place, but I know where I'm heading. Another favourite spiritual author of mine, Elizabeth Jarret Andrew, suggests asking deep, challenging questions of ourselves when we write about our Spiritual journey. In ' Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir', she encourages writers to ask ourselves questions like 'Through what territory has your spirit travelled? What are the landmarks? The turning points? The difficult terrain, the resting places?'

It's tough answering these questions and turning them into a blog post. They make you vulnerable. But then isn't that the joy and pain for all writers?
The desk of CS Lewis


  1. Hi Susanne, thanks for sharing about the place of spiritual retreats in our faith journey and our writing. I love how you have used your blog to keep yourself accountable while, at the same time, blessing others.

  2. Great post Susanne. That's great that you were able to attend retreats on a yearly basis from the time you were young. I attended lots of Christian youth camps for the first 12 years of my walk with God and they blessed me deeply but time for reflection during most of them was limited. As I've grown in my walk with God my desire for intimacy with Him has deepened greatly and my desire for times of retreat too. I try to retreat with Him on a daily basis now if I can! :) Thank you for that quote by Ed Cyzewski. It resonated with me. I also liked the questions posed in the book 'The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir'. Sounds like a book I should read. Thanks for a great post Susanne and all the best to you in your writing and spiritual journeys.

  3. Thanks, Susanne. This whole topic of how our spiritual and our writing lives are intertwined is so interesting--and so important. I love the following sentence of yours in particular: 'When I first began to take my writing seriously I knew that it was important, regardless of the genre I chose, to maintain that sense of contemplation in my writing.' I agree, for sure. I always to listen to God as I write, taking the time to sit for a while first and just acknowledge God's presence with me, and also listen to where the story (or blog) wants to go. If God's Spirit is in us, then, as our imagination and writing skills are put to work, surely God is a vital part of bringing those words of our to life.

  4. Thanks Jo-Anne, Anusha and Jeanette for your encouraging feedback. As Christian writers, maintaining a state of prayer as we approach the empty page is at once frightening and life giving. Sharing these thoughts with others who are like minded helps to validate how vital this approach it to all of us.

  5. Hi Susanne, this is a beautiful blog capturing the essence of what I want to convey in my 'profound' pieces of writing. I am going to sit with this for a little while and let it sink in.
    I like the questions E, J. Andrew asks
    Thank you

  6. I enjoyed your post, thanks Susanne. I am a 'spiritual retreater' too. I value these retreats, however long or short, as some of the focal points of my life.