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.
Scripture and the Poetic Imagination
One way to enter scripture deeply is to engage it creatively. As with painters, poets have long used their craft to imagine what certain moments in scripture might have looked and felt like for those present. Poets have also used their craft to explore scriptural truths in a modern context. In this workshop, we will consider a variety of poems by contemporary authors, including Scott Cairns, Tania Runyan, Luci Shaw, Anya Silver, and Robert Siegel, who use poetry to engage—indeed, enter into—scripture. Building on their examples, we will try our hand at a scripture-inspired poem. No poetry experience necessary.
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
I am available to give readings of my work as well as talks exploring the intersection of faith and the arts. 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