To write is to embark on a journey

whose destination we do not know.

—Henri Nouwen



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 and Psalm-Writing as a Spiritual Practice


A psalm is an invitation to set aside our busyness and dwell in gratitude, praise, or alternatively, lament. Similarly, a poem, whether about an insect or a sunset, is an invitation to slow down and dwell in the complex beauty of God’s world. Poetry and psalms share this in common with prayer: they require us to attend. Choosing words and crafting structure can become a satisfying devotional exercise as we enter into the present more deeply, learn to notice the rich and often overlooked details around us, and articulate both our faith and our questions through image and metaphor. In this workshop, we’ll break down a biblical psalm to see how it functions as both poetry and prayer, examine psalm-like poems by contemporary Christian poets, including Denise Levertov, Anya Silver, and Robert Siegel, and take some time to compose our own psalms and poems using the techniques of these writers and psalmists. This workshop is designed for all levels of experience, whether you write poetry extensively or have never written a poem before but would like to give it a try.





“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