To write is to embark on a journey
whose destination we do not know.
Journaling as a Spiritual Practice
Journaling can be a spiritually nourishing practice. It can help us to become more present, process what God is doing in our lives, and grow in our awareness of his faithfulness in the details. But obstacles to sitting down with a journal and our thoughts are many, from digital distractions and the frenetic pace of modern life to fears about what to write and how. In this workshop, we will consider a variety of ways in which journal-keeping can serve as a means of spiritual growth, debunk myths about journaling that keep us from getting started, examine a variety of approaches to journaling by Christian writers, including Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton, and Luci Shaw, and spend some time putting pen to paper as we “try on” an approach or two in search of a practice that will serve each of us best. This workshop is designed for all levels of experience, whether you have journaled extensively or would simply like to give it a try.
Poetry as Gratitude
“Everything is a gift. The degree to which we are awake to this truth is a measure of our gratefulness,” says Brother Steindl-Rast. In this workshop, we will read poems of gratefulness, explore poetry-writing as a lens through which to see the world as gift, and put pen to paper in search of our own practice of gratitude through verse. All levels of writing experience welcome.
Poetry as Prayer
Many prayers recorded in scripture are also poems. The Psalms, for instance, draw on a variety of literary techniques from Hebrew poetry to communicate the psalmist’s heart before God. How might we likewise draw on poetic tradition to shape our own prayers and find a new vocabulary of the heart? In this workshop, we will look at poems by a variety of classic and contemporary authors, including George Herbert, Marie Howe, Wendell Berry, Brian Doyle, and Malcolm Guite, to see how they use poetry to shape prayer. Building on the examples of these authors, we will try our hand at a poem-prayer of our own. No poetry experience necessary.
Talks & Readings
Letters to Saint Francis from a Modern-Day Pilgrim
In this presentation, I weave together the surprising story of St. Francis of Assisi, letters to the barefoot saint from my book A Gathering of Larks, and insights from a summer spent in the back yard with my foot up, convalescing from a fracture with three companions to keep me company: a biography of St. Francis, a catbird, and my pen.
Habitation of Wonder
“Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder,” wrote E.B White. In this presentation, I lead listeners on an expedition in search of wonder, intertwining poems from by book Habitation of Wonder with stories, thoughts, and questions about the nature of this wonder-filled world we inhabit.
For nearly a decade, I have been writing poems of intentional gratitude for ordinary—yet not so ordinary—things: commas, socks, house plants, the color blue, night. In this presentation, poems from my manuscript In Gratitude, combined with insights gleaned from this project, invite the listener to encounter the world and its elements as gift.
In addition to the above presentations, I am available to give talks exploring the intersection of faith and the arts as well as guest sermons in churches or at retreats. Please see my interviews and sermons to get a sense of my voice. I charge a reasonable price for workshops and talks based on a sliding scale. Please contact me for further details.
“We were thrilled when Abigail Carroll graciously agreed to bring her Journaling as a Spiritual Practice workshop to Essex Alliance Church. Guiding the first session of EAC’s Artistic Expressions of Faith series, Abby set a tone of encouragement, liberty, and joyful anticipation.” —Jim Wilkens, Pastor of Care, Essex Alliance Church, Essex, Vermont
“I didn’t know what to expect from Journaling as a Spiritual Practice, but as I began to explore new areas of self, I simply couldn't get enough! Abigail's depth of knowledge as a reader of the literature that has shaped Christian thought, as well as her own writing of poetry and prose, pulled our imaginations into that inspiring place where true writing dwells.” — Kathleen Smith, workshop participant, Memorial Baptist Church, Middlebury, Vermont