Step Eleven – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our writing by seeking a conscious contact with God – praying only for the knowledge of His will for our work and the power to carry that out.
I have always loved the term that the early Christians used to describe our faith. They called it “The Way.” I love it because it denotes action. It points to a journey, a path. When we want to go somewhere we check a map, or put the address in our Garmin. (Although my children say this ages me!) We don’t head out on a trip without knowing where we are going.
So it is with our writing journey. We are more than just writers. I once belonged to a writing group headed by a very talented writing professor from Princeton University. I felt so inadequate because everybody in the group was highly educated and held Ph.Ds in Literature and English. Here I was with a nursing degree and a talent I didn’t know how to use. When I read my positive stories of faith I could feel the animosity and silent mockery of some in the group. Discouraged, I was ready to quit. Instead, that wonderful professor took me to the side and said, “You can learn the skills you need to be a writer! The difference between you and the others is that you have something to say!”
Those words propelled me forward. I couldn’t have been a writer in my youth. I wasn’t that smart. It wasn’t until I found my lost faith in God that He gave me something to say. Anyone can learn the art of writing. It is only a precious few whom He calls to be Spiritual Writers. It is a small niche. It is a tiny genre. We are called by the world to seek worldly riches and acclaim. There is nothing wrong with these things, but when we start to make worldly success our goal we lose the very thing that makes our writing unique and special. We are writing for the Kingdom of God. Our riches lie in another world. And yet doesn’t He always provide.
So we must follow the path. We must live The Way.
“The strength of a man consists in finding out the way in which God is going, and going in that way too.”… Henry Ward Beecher
I want to follow The Way. And I am blessed because our Catholic Church clearly outlines how to do that. It is so simple and yet it is the hardest thing I have ever done. I need to turn my will, hopes, dreams and writing over to Him. When I do, I experience such a sense of peace and contentment. I am no longer burdened by my own desires. I can live simply. I can follow the Church’s teachings. My writing reflects my faith and I am hopefully following His Will. It is only when I start to play tug of war with the control of things that I get lost.
My gift requires more of me than I am always ready to acknowledge. My gift was given to me to heal the hurting and lost children of the world. I was once (and often still am) one of those children. Oh, at times it might be easier to ignore the gift of words and the hurt and rejection that often accompany it. But how would I stand before Jesus at the end of my life and explain that I buried the talent out of fear? How would I explain all the healing and inspiration that didn’t occur for the rest of my brothers and sisters because I decided to write what was popular or trendy? I have to follow His Way.
How do I do that? I can only do that by turning myself and my work over to God. I learn His Will by daily prayer. I meditate on His Words in Scripture. I meditate on the mysteries of the rosary. I do a daily examination of conscience for myself and my work. I ask Him to speak to me and He often does – in Eucharistic Adoration or even in my dreams. I need to have the Holy Spirit around me. I need to look for God in the faces of others, in the sacraments, in the small miracles and unexpected coincidences of daily life.
To be a Spiritual Writer seems like a paradox of extremes. We need to be humble enough to know it is all His. Yet, we need to have enough faith and self-confidence to use the words He gives us. But know this: Living The Way for us is both special and wonderful. The path can be dark and scary and, yet at times, we are graced with such brightness and joy it overwhelms us. The journey is isolating and lonely, yet the end result is the greatest connection to others that anyone can ever experience. To learn that someone in a distant state or country came home to God because a character in your novel touched them is a grace that fills your heart. To see the smile of a child – to know that they have found joy in goodness – is beyond any confirmation you will ever need. God gives each Spiritual Writer just the right words to reach the lost soul. It doesn’t matter what genre or type of writing you do. It is for one of His lost souls. And in saving that soul, you save your own.
You may stumble or lose your way. God knows that I have. You may be lured by the world or by the devil himself. Don’t get discouraged. Look ahead – see the light. He will light your way – His Way.
Karen Kelly Boyce is a mother of two and grandmother of two who lives on a farm in N.J. with her retired husband. She and her husband love to camp and take ‘road trips’ around the country. She has published four novels and three children’s books. Her website is www.karenkellyboyce.com