Friday, February 28, 2014

Learning from Pope John Paul's big mistake

Before I was a blogger, my principle outlet for writing was my prayer journal. I process things in writing; I ask Jesus questions in writing; I even worry in writing! One time, years ago, I wrote to Jesus suggesting that my schedule would work a lot better a certain way…and my superior came into chapel within ten minutes to tell me that she needed to change my schedule (to the way I had described in my journal). Not one year ago, I wrote to my recently-deceased mother about a painful memory from her final illness, and got her answer--and a very appropriate one it was--when my pen ran out of ink mid-sentence. (I could practically hear her tell me, "Stop that right now!" So I did.) During our monthly retreat day, I sometimes review what I've written, looking for traces of Jesus' footprints in my life.

So I've ended up with over 20 years' worth of these written reflections, in a variety of notebooks: some of them outdated daybooks, donated by office supply stores; others large format, hardcover books; spiral bound; paperback. A hefty box full of memories. And with an impending move, they represented a question: Do I keep this record of suffering and grace in storage, or do I pitch it now?

Pope John Paul made the big mistake of keeping his journals around, leaving it to his longtime secretary to "dispose of them" after his death. You can now buy the 600+ page volume in the Polish edition.

My notes will have far less interest than those of a soon-to-be sainted Pope, but still.

So today I am finishing the job. Having flipped through the pages of each volume, asking the Lord to make anything significant pop out at me so I could record it for myself (behind a password!), I ripped out every page and fed them two or three sheets at a time, into a shredder. (Didn't want the Dumpster divers in our back alley to leave my soul exposed out there in the weather.)

As I slowly emptied the shredder over and over into the growing collection of trash bags, I found a record of a lot of grace, a lot of places where the Word of God really was a "light to my path." I also realized that I am going to have to be a lot more careful about what kind of notebook I use for future journals. Those hardcover, full sized ones have really heavy paper.

So you can learn from my mistake, too!

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