Friday, November 21, 2008

One of the journals I've kept for the past 18 years contains nothing but quotations that resonated deeply with me. It serves as my own personal prayer book, a resource I use in grounding myself when I feel I'm coming unmoored, or just as a devotional book to remind me who and whose I am.

Included in it are lyrics to hymns and other songs, scripture verses (usually rewritten in first person), prayers, poems, lines from movies, pictures of paintings by famous artists, magazine articles, etc. It's almost filled with the material I've gathered from various sources, only 4 pages are still blank. Some of it would not be inspiring to anyone but me, and most people would probably wonder about the kind of person who finds inspiration in some of these pieces. It's a key to my interior landscape, containing answers to questions I've asked and clues to riddles that have puzzled me. Most of it is in my own handwriting, everything from child-like printing to elegant calligraphy, which also says something, I suppose, of the frame of mind I was in when I wrote it. It takes about an hour to go through the whole thing, different pieces get skipped each time, and I always get to the end with an incredible sense of peace and well-being.

I got the idea to make this journal after hearing a friend talk about collecting similar items in a shoebox, and a day or two later, receiving this blank book as a gift from another friend. The time was right, it was meant to be. Unless it was weighty enough to make me pause and ponder, it didn't make the book. Maybe when I die, it will go to a family member or friend whose faith will be strengthened, hope renewed, attitude adjusted or curiosity satisfied. I hope it isn't tossed in the garbage, but eventually it will be, and that's okay.

I was reading through it last night when I came across this piece from Nelson Mandela's 1994 inaugural address. It immediately brought to mind our new President-elect Obama and the way he has inspired people throughout his campaign. See if you don't agree.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest the glory of God within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

3 comments:

Grandmère Mimi said...

CJ, those are beautiful and inspiring words, indeed, from Nelson Mandela. The journal is a neat idea. I do the same thing, but the things that I save are scattered here, there, and everywhere.

This morning, in the back of my prayer book, I found all the verses of "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow".

The first verse makes for a nice morning hymn.

Awake my soul, and with the sun
thy daily course of duty run.
Cast off dull sloth, and joyful rise
to pay thy morning sacrifice.

C J Garrett said...

You know, GM, in my former life when I was a Baptist, I didn't know that song had verses; we only sang the chorus. Have you ever used the chorus as the grace before meals with the family circled around the table holding hands? I like it, especially at Thanksgiving.

Grandmère Mimi said...

CJ. using the chorus as a grace before meals is a splendid idea.