Written by Kelly Boyer Sagert
“For we are the product of His hand, heaven’s poetry etched on lives, created in Jesus, the Liberator, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago.” Ephesians 2:10, The Voice
This verse serves as the basis for a spiritual writing ministry that has become an important part of my life. More specifically, in September 2014, I began to offer free spiritual writing workshops in my community, described in this manner:
This ministry aims to help each participant to access the rich spiritual stories that lie deeply within him or her. After all, we are heaven’s poetry!
Words are powerful. The words that we write in these workshops can be used:
- to help you understand yourself better – and therefore divine God’s purpose in your life
- to minister to others more effectively
- to share your testimonies of how God has worked in your life and witness for him
- to give one another one of the greatest gifts of all – to genuinely listen to and celebrate each other’s sacred stories
This is a traveling ministry that can go wherever it’s needed, from churches to assisted living facilities and more. There are few barriers. Income is not a barrier, as only pen and paper are needed. Physical infirmities become minimized as we can take the ministry to others and, even if people can’t hold a pen, most can verbally share their stories and/or be inspired by others. Education is not a barrier as these are not intellectual exercises; rather these are stories of the Divine Spirit within each of us.
Spiritual Writing Analogies
On my website, I’ve shared multiple analogies to describe the process that I facilitate. I’ll quote one of them here:
Picture a set of Russian nesting dolls, wherein there is a brightly painted doll that can be opened up – and, inside that doll is an exact duplicate, only a bit smaller. You repeat the process three or four times until you find a tiny doll in the center that is solid. Let’s envision that we have a five-layer nesting doll. These dolls represent, from largest to smallest, writing with the:
- Body: we can do the most mindless of writing using our body, from doodling to quick jotting, perhaps of a name or phone number
- Mind: we use this type of writing to create a grocery list or writing instructions or a how-to article; it takes more thought than the previous category, but it’s all pretty matter of fact
- Heart: this is when we share our feelings, perhaps in a letter to a grandmother or grandchild, or when we write an essay in the style of Chicken Soup for the Soul
- Soul: this is when we are truly willing and able to be vulnerable and write something authentic and meaningful; this goes beyond the sweet stuff often found in certain types of essays and can even be raw and painful to write
- Spirit: I believe that we are all connected by the Holy Spirit; whether we can write from that place is something for theologians to decide, not me!
The goal of our spiritual writing workshops is to push beyond the first two types of writing – writing that only engages our bodies and minds, into the type that is full of heart, and then even beyond that, to what is authentically us.
On my website, I’ve also included sample exercises that you are more than welcome to use or adapt as needed. Here is one that focuses on using water and rocks as symbolic inspiration. I’ll put the intro here and, if interested, you can find the verses I used here.
Although we are spiritual beings, we are also sensory creatures, taking in details of the world through our eyes, our ears, our noses, tongues and fingertips. So, at a recent spiritual writing workshop, we took two objects used in the Bible in symbolic ways and explored them in sensory ways. These objects were water and rocks.
I invite you to fill a clear bowl with water and place by it some rocks, perhaps jagged and bumpy or smooth and shiny. Then, read the different ways that rocks and water are used symbolically in the Bible. After mediating on those verses, pick up a rock. What does it feel like? Look like? When you’re ready, put the rock into the bowl of water. What did the water feel like beneath your fingertips? How did the water ripple?
What did that experience symbolize for you? Were you giving up a burden to God? Planting a seed? Or something else entirely? Start freewriting and see where the experience takes you.
If you’re interested in starting a similar program in your community, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you feel as though I can add useful insights. I’d be happy to help spread this ministry!
About Kelly Boyer Sagert
Kelly Boyer Sagert is a full-time freelance writer living in Lorain, Ohio. She has traditionally published 14 books, written five plays performed in Ohio and sometimes beyond, and is the scriptwriter for Trail Magic: The Grandma Gatewood Story, the Emmy-Award-nominated documentary that appeared on PBS. She is the founder and co-chair of the annual Northeast Ohio Christian Writer’s Conference. You can find more info here: www.kbsagert.com