Saturday, October 3, 2015

Writing With Pencil

Healing with the written word, is a fresh and unfamiliar way of meeting one's inner self. Recently, the Catholic Times had an article on a retreat at the Benedictine Monastery using the written word. Each one writes a short autobiography to get to know oneself, and the emotions engendered: joy, anger, sorrow, pleasure, love, hate, hope. The seven colors of the rainbow were also elements of the retreat, but each was to use their own words to describe what was happening as they meditated on the emotions and colors.

An article in With Bible, possibly with a  similar intent, was entitled 'Writing with Pencil Wakes up the Soul'. The writer is a religious sister whose interest and specialty are media and spirituality. She begins by using the words of Marshal McLuhan: mediums are tools that extend our bodies and senses.

She tells her readers, she is not using a pencil, but the  computer keyboard which is much faster. She wonders what would she do without the computer. And remembers the words of a novelist who felt when writing with a pencil that his body was pushing the pencil. What was he saying?  Was it not that his words were being inscribed on his Soul?

She mentions reading often the letters her father sent her during her first years in the convent before his death. They were written in an old style, with Chinese characters interspersed. "...your father always has you in mind, in the future give yourself entirely to the life, be a devoted religious to help the many who are hurting, is my prayer for you. That is all that I can do for you."

Reading the letters, she remembers the love of her father and the sorrow that she was not a better daughter in showing love for him. She imagines if the letters were written with a keyboard, they  would not have the same meaning as seeing the father's letter in his own hand, unique to him. Today it is rare to run across anything written by hand.

What is important to her is rather than be in step with the new, shifting, urgent  and confused  lifestyle is to move slowly, with less, and to enjoy it. No matter how much she tries to keep up with the new it will always stay ahead of her, and she will be fretful and miss what is important. Many things change, but when she remains concerned about what doesn't change she's at rest. 

If we are to use the new technology correctly  patience and discipline are required. Writing by hand helps us to develop patience, silence, time to think, and slows down the pace in which we live. She is giving breath to her soul. Writing one word after another, slowly, she concludes, like magic her soul  awakes, and she finds herself praying.

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