Last week, while visiting family in Indiana, I left my personal journal at a rural bed and breakfast. Bryan and I had stayed at the B&B, a historic country house called the 1875 Homestead, for a one-night “getaway” while his parents graciously kept our two boys. We had enjoyed long stretches of reading on the facility’s big lawn, dinner outdoors on a covered patio and a fantastic bottle of wine from the local Cedar Creek Winery. I had brought my journal along for the retreat in the event a crazy stroke of inspiration struck.
We were still on the road, driving back to Bryan ‘s parents’ place, when my phone rang. It was the innkeeper, saying he and his wife had found a journal and two magazines in our room when they went in to clean. He said he would keep them in the facility’s office until I returned to retrieve them.
I staggered for a moment, tempted to be mad at myself for overlooking such an important and irreplaceable belonging. What if the innkeeper read it? What would he see in there?
But that moment passed, because I knew better. Being mad that I had forgotten something was useless; life happens, I reasoned, and I could turn right around and go back for my journal. And if the innkeeper read it? So what? If anything, I hoped he might find in it a word of encouragement, or the truth that we are all human and we all struggle.
What is a journal if not a way to communicate with yourself and try to make sense of the world? On a broader level, what is writing if not an attempt to communicate and express?
Every once in a while, I think about what will happen to my old journals when I die. Will they serve any purpose beyond the here and now, beyond my immediate struggle to interpret the world around me? I have shoeboxes full of journals. And, vain as it may sound, I hope that they serve a greater purpose some day. I hope that they help to tell a bigger story, a story not of myself but of what it is to be human.
I thank God for my passion of writing, and I hope I can help others see and practice the value of the written word.
Do you have journals or pieces of writing that you want to share with the world? How might others be inspired by you?