Gems for the Journey

Small Starts in Writing

You may have heard that when you are feeling overwhelmed with a long list of things to do, choose the smallest, most manageable task first. The sense of accomplishment will help motivate you to move on with the rest of the list.

This works with writing as well. A month ago my grandfather passed away. I returned to my childhood home in Alberta for the funeral and to be with family members who I don't see regularly. I was flooded with all kinds of emotions. I knew that journaling would help, but I had no idea where to start.

One of the tributes at the funeral touched on the metaphor of soil because my grandfather had been a farmer. Late one night I chose that one image to be the springboard for writing. I wrote about all the ways my grandparents and my hometown had been nurturing soil for the roots of my life.

Choosing to work with one image, helped me process a wide range of emotions. What image might you be invited to focus on as you process whatever you are experiencing today? Start by writing about that image. How does it relate to your life? What do you learn from it? Where does this image invite you to grow?

Photo Reflection

As you may have seen in the photography section of the site, I find nature's images to be very helpful in processing my emotions. Here is a photo with a reflection that I wrote earlier this year. Of course what I see in the photo is greatly impacted by what I am experiencing in my life at the time. I may have written something different today. (If your email system does not provide html formatting, you can see the photos on the back issue section on the website.)

My Reflection:

A lone, brown leaf is caught between a rock and the ice. Relentless water pounds down on it. It was a leaf meant to fall to the ground and be returned to the soil in the slow, quiet process of decay. It is bent over and breaking under the force of the water. It is pushed into the hardness of the rock and the ice.

I feel sympathetic toward this leaf. I know, it is only a leaf. Yet it reminds me of today. I feel the pressure of life pounding down on me. Decisions must be made. How can I know which way to go? It seems there is really no way. I feel helpless, broken, and forced into places I don't want to go. Yet, too, I feel kinship, oneness. Is that enough?

I want answers. I want certainty that the leaf is released to a soft, warm place of rest. Yet this is not the gift for today. If I stop resisting and hold on to kinship, it may teach me something. It may teach me about compassion. It may teach me to see others, where I have only seen myself. It may teach me that reaching out can be a part of my own healing. Is it senseless to hope, that if I can feel compassion for a leaf and reach out in rescue, that I will not also receive the same?

Photo for Your Reflection

What longing, pain, hopes, emotions does this photo touch in you? If you would like to write about it, choose one emotion and give it your full attention.

Retreat Offered

If you are local to Pennsylvania, you may be interested in a series of retreats that a friend and I are offering. This retreat provides space for participants to explore their spiritual journey through scrapbooking, photography, and other visual arts.

No art experience is necessary, just a desire to enrich your prayer life and connect with God in new ways around your life story.

Both Mary and I found the artistic expression of life journey to be healing as we worked through grief following the death of family members. Mary enjoys working with paper collage and fabric. I enjoy writing, scrapbooking, and photography. You can find out more info on the site by clicking here.

New to the Site

A recent addition to the Journey-through-Grief website is a place where you can post your own poetry. This poetry can be in honor of a loved one who has died or it can be poetry about your own journey with grief. Click here to link to the poetry page.

Feel free to contact me anytime, if you think of anything that would be a helpful addition to the site. Also feel free to pass this newsletter on to anyone you might know who would find it helpful.

May you find peace today for your journey,