July 14, 2013

Paper Altars

I journal to remember.  

In my bookshelves there are volumes of my life. I write in the sad times and I write in the happy times and sometimes, in the in-betweens. I write prayers, poems, psalms. I write sobs, laughter, and screams. I write whys, whens, wheres, and hows. 

I write when I can't pray and I write when I can't keep it inside anymore. There are days of never ending ink of praise and thanksgiving and there are blank pages with only the date on top and I know those were days of deep pain and disappointment.

I write for the days when God seems to be silent and hidden. For the days when I wonder if anyone is listening to these ramblings of my soul. I write to remember that He has always been faithful and He will be faithful again. I write love letters and dear John letters and why-have-you-forsaken-me letters and I-will-always-love-you letters to the same One reader to whom I have been writing for almost 20 years.

I go back and write the date of the answers to the prayers I have bled into the paper. There are many, many "yes! yes! yes, child, yes!" and many, many "child, this time you need to wait" and many, many "no, child, not this" 

And I rejoice. Anyway. Even then. 

Because I know there will be a date next to each prayer. Some dates are separated by years and years and some by mere hours and some are still date-less.  But a date will come because He listens, and He sees, and He loves.

So I journal to remember

Each volume is an altar. A place of remembrance. Of sacrifice and offering. Of prayer and praise. Like Noah and Abraham and Joshua before me I build altars of thanksgiving made with words instead of stones, paper Ebenezers to the God who goes before me.

Because my mind is forgetful and my heart is weak. Because He has said taste and see that the Lord is good, and when the darkness descends and uncertainty threatens, and when He seems far away and the path is crooked, and when I am hopeless and I feel alone, I pull out a tome of our story, His and mine, and read, and read, and read. 

I read until the memories of His never-failing, never-wavering, never-leaving love come alive again and build towers of refuge around me, and I can continue this journey secure not in the feeling but in the fact that throughout the best and worst times of my life Jesus has held me by the hand. 


Jean Wise said...

A fellow journal writer! I love the word you use to describe this spiritual practice: paper altars. wow never thought of that before and just love it. I 'harvest" my journal by rereading them, highlighting them. You are so right about writing in journal as a form of remembering. A way of honoring too. Really enjoyed reading your words tonight,!!

Gaby said...

Thank you, Jean! The analogy hit me in the jaw one day :)

Jennifer Argo said...

Truly, one of your best posts!

Gaby said...

Thank you, friend. I know you know better than anyone what I mean :)

Debbie (wordsonwheels) said...

This is a heart thumping post, and I can relate so well. To call a prayer journal a paper altar is divinely inspired, in my opinion. I love it. When I clicked to that first referenced post, I remembered it the minute I started reading. It might have been the post that made me follow this blog, in fact.

I loved it then and love it now.

Please keep letting God use that head of yours in such a mighty way.

soulstops said...

This is wonderful and so true....had to share this..yes, writing is a way to memorialize and remember God's presence, especially when our feelings tempt us to forget...blessings to you, my friend :)

Kathleen Jaeger said...

I love, too, that He is the Word and that He chose to reveal Himself through the Word. It makes loving to write another more personal way to connect to God!