I started to keep a journal in the late 1970's. I first began to write in my journal to bring to the surface of my consciousness a whole lot of thoughts and emotions. I remember hearing years later someone quoted as saying: "I write to know what I think."
A journal is not a diary, though it may record various events in one’s life. It is more reflection upon one’s life. At first my journal was a way of dealing with needed psychological healing and coming to maturity. At some point my journal became more reflections upon the Faith, thinking through the implications of Catholic Teaching. So I began to write to know what I believe.
I have rarely gone back and read any of my past journals. I have almost 30 years of journals! The few times I have looked back in them, say sampling a few years worth of writing, I found out that I was often having the same "new insight" about the same time every year! This led to an insight of mine that our growth is rarely linear, i.e. able to be plotted in a straight line. Linear growth would look like this:
We all know that if we charted our personal and spiritual growth, the line forward would have to sometimes go backwards because of regressing or digressing. It might look more like this:
But my journal findings would suggest that our growth is also spiral. We know that a spiral goes round and round, but also it expands outward. If one drew a line across a spiral, the spiral keeps coming back to the same point, but further down the line. This diagram illustrates this:
I think we keep coming back, then, to the same points in our growth, but we’re not caught in an unending loop. That would be pointless. Each swing along the spiral takes us further down the line, and that is progress. Of course, my insight is not original, though I haven’t studied it too much. Goggle "Spiral Learning" and three are many sites about the subject. I Goggle image search and also got this spiral:
In fact, if you think about spirals they are everywhere. My favorite white rose:
And the Sacred Spiral in The Glory Window of the Chapel at Thanksgiving Square, Dallas. Designed by French artist Gabriel Loire, the window symbolizes the blessing of the Divine descending to earth as well as the ascent of human praise and gratitude to God:
But this place with a spiral particularly intrigues me, as it descends into the earth. I believe it descends to a sacred well:
This adds dimension to our spiral journey. But the subject of "depth" is for another day.
Returning to the subject of my journals. What am I to do with 30 years of them? At 57 years old, I don’t think I’ll become famous so that my journals might be abridged and published! I haven’t made the time in a long time to even write in them much anymore. But I have a reverence for the insights they record, so I think I’ll keep them and perhaps one day read them again in old age...