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Conversations with God

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 1 June 2014

A favourite exercise in our writing group is to take five random words, put ten minutes on the clock and write.

Usually the idea is to include, or try to include, all five words somewhere in the story that emerges, but we don’t hold ourselves to that. At the end of the ten minutes, we share what we have written, and delight in the diversity of stories that come from that original inspiration.

I recently came across a book called “How the light gets in: writing as a spiritual practice” by Pat Schneider. I am intrigued by her use of the term “spiritual practice”. How might my experience of writing shed light on what spiritual practice means?

A “practice” is something that is done, rather than thought about. Theorising is important but thinking about writing does not make a writer. Putting words down on the page makes a writer.

Facing the blank page can be terrifying. Exercises like the one described above help to distract from that terror, and, suddenly, there are words on the page. Prayer is not always easy either and Jesus gave us something similar in the Lord’s Prayer, teaching us how to pray, how to start speaking to God, a way of entering the conversation.

Conversations involve listening as well as speaking. Often when we are writing, what comes out is not what we intend to say, but leads to far more interesting and surprising places. The act of doing the writing allows this to happen. Similarly with praying. Once we are in the conversation, speaking and listening, it can lead to unexpected places, perhaps the place God intended us to go all along. Confirmation draws us deeper into conversations with God.

Elinor Newman