We are in Week 1 of Journaling through the Book of John: A Journey for Lent and Beyond and I didn’t want to leave you high and dry until Saturday. Today is Ash Wednesday and the official start to Lent.
I’d like to share a few tips for this journey for those who may be unsure of their footing, a poem I wrote back in 2013, and an incredible resource for Lent which combines all the beautiful creative things I love- art, poetry and music which you may also greatly appreciate!
Are you ready?
Journaling Through John Suggestions and Tips
Your Journal, Your Rules- Just because we are combining Bible exploration with journal writing doesn’t mean you have to get all rigid and structured. If you had great intentions for this journey but suddenly feel like the deer in the headlights, maybe you are feeling the pressure to make something of this as opposed to giving yourself permission to be an explorer…because all of the disciples were really explorers after all. They had questions, doubts, and agendas. They watched Jesus, and I am sure they (being human and all) stumbled in the same ways we do. All this to say- you are an explorer/disciple on a journey with your journal, taking notes as you walk along seeing through the eyes of John. Let your journal show your discoveries, but also your stumblings. Ask the questions, explore the doubts. Bring it all to the page and offer it to God as you go!
Write it Out- Write out a verse that speaks to you on a journal page, index card or in the margin. Or do all three. Keep your verse close. I’d say write it on your forehead but that might draw some uncomfortable stares from others.
Meditate and Memorize- I will often write a verse in my journal. If I want to work on memorizing I will use an index card. I write the verse on one side and then on the opposite side a list of the first letter of each word. I use upper case for important words and for smaller words (a, and the, of, for, ) lower case. This allows for easy, on the go memorization and mediation. I have also in the past used small, pocket sized journals to do the same thing.
Praying with Your Pen- I often pray verses that can be prayed in each chapter back to God. I also turn some scripture to questions. Since The Word we are interacting with is alive, I find it natural to spontaneously ask God questions as they arise. This helps facilitate two-way communication. I ask and listen. Which usually leads more deeply into Scripture! Which leads me to questions, which points me pack to God, which leads to…well you get the picture. Like that shampoo commercial with the girls to infinity saying, “and so one, and so one, and ….” . BUT so much better results than clean, shiny hair! Knowing God is MUCH better than shiny hair. RIGHT?
Sketchy Characters- I’m not implying John the Baptist was a sketch character. Or judging Nathaniel for lazing under a fig tree. Um…well, what I mean is as you are introduced to individuals in the Chapters, you can research scripture for all you can find out about them and their part in the Story of Jesus on earth. You can use supplements, or online help if you are impatient. I won’t judge. I understand. Prayerfully do your exploration and see what you discover. I find this leads to a greater understanding and empathy with our own humanity and the humanity of others. We move from “those people” and them, to WE, and US. I think this is a HUGE factor in connecting with God and others.
Chapter Breaks and Titles- Using the Chapter Breaks and Titles of EACH chapter in the Bible version you are using can be an opportunity for to summarize or break down each portion in your own words. You can rename the portion, summarize, or pray it as well. You could write a poem about it if you are up to the challenge. Get the word in you and you get into the word! Or could you summarize each portion of Chapter One with one word. Let your creative side help you see something new!
What’s in a Name? Be aware of how Jesus is described, addressed or named. Explore in your journal, explore in scripture (and supplements as desired) each of these names. This is one of my favorite ways to learn about God’s character. Knowing God’s name, throughout scripture is an eye opening excavation. I have a number of resources I have used for this, but the best place to start is the Bible and let Scripture speak for Scripture first! I’ll share some resources Saturday.
OK- well I hope this helps if you are feeling unsure of what to write in your journal. You are an Explorer. Take Notes. GO!
OK, next up- this poem:
Return to Dust
to the sky
return to the dust-
Lastly I want to share a great resource I learned about a last year. It’s called The Lent Project. I absolutely love the sharing of classical musical pieces, art and poetry chosen to accompany this journey! I appreciate the background on the artists, their place in history and their influences – I encourage you to check it out and sign up ! Just exactly what makes my soul expand! I am so glad I signed up awhile back. I had forgotten and had the pleasant surprise of receiving the first e-mail – one I will actually open! Check it out !
I hope this made sense. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or problems or need journaling support! Or leave a comment, share a tip or a word or encouragement for your fellow explorers! I’ll see you Saturday!