Thursday, 27 February 2014

Journalling, Special Tea, and Sacred Spaces

There has been an idea growing in my mind lately that threads in and out of my normal thoughts. Last night it surfaced again and I couldn't file it away, so I decided that it was time that I make it happen.

Before university I was a coffee lover. I still am a coffee lover. Strong, full tastes appeal to me and the robust flavour of coffee tops the list. I was convinced that I would be the ultimate candidate for full blown coffee addiction in university but, in a surprising twist of fate, I have switched my allegiance to chai tea. Coffee has slipped to a (very) close second. I will still drink coffee at any hour of any day, and I still love the taste, but chai tea has become my drink of choice here.

There is a chai tea blend at Teavana that I love. I ask for it unsweetened, without sugar, and it is the most amazing drink ever. It is my Special Tea, a tea that I will only ever reserve for special occasions because I do not ever want to get tired of it.

The idea that dropped into my mind was to strike out to the mall, get my Special Tea, grab a booth and do some writing, and that is exactly what happened. Maybe it is abnormal for someone my age to say that they absolutely loved going to the mall to drink tea alone, but I'll admit to it.

One of the best parts of the whole excursion was writing on paper again. I've written in a pen-and-paper journal since I was nine and, in recent years, I've journalled almost every day. However, university changed more than my preferences in hot drinks: I stopped journalling on paper. It blindsided me a little. I didn't expect that over a decade of writing in pen and paper would dissolve in a matter of a few months, but it did. 

Maybe this is part of why I feel this silence so acutely. Journalling has been my form of prayer, of connecting to God, of debriefing the day, of holding myself in check, and tracing back to see how I've grown. I didn't anticipate this discipline changing as drastically as it has. I tried to keep it alive at the beginning, but it felt forced and unnatural. 

I made an executive decision and declared a paper journal hiatus. All my personal writing had deferred to a Word document on my laptop, so I decided to allow that to become my stand-in journal. It is still good, but it is not the same, and I was reminded of that when I sat down in the booth today with my tea. 

When I sat down to write this morning, it felt like old times again. My writing is the most authentic and raw when it is written on paper and I could feel a release of pressure with every line filled.

Pages and pages later, I had to force myself to stop.

That hour in the mall this morning, just drinking tea and writing and praying, stayed with me the whole day. I've been thinking over it, wondering why my journalling (and when I say journalling, that is synonymous with prayer) only worked when I completely removed myself from my normal location.

A change of space. A meeting ground. An intentional connecting of heart and spirit. Maybe this is where I need to be more often. When I lived at home, I would journal at the end of the day in my room. Here at school, my room is where a large part of my life unfolds. I study and work in my room. It is my home base. At home I never did anything in my room except sleep and read and journal. It was, in a way, a sacred space.

Carving out sacred spaces is a theme that I have noticed subtly unfolding in my life over the past few months. I've met God in coffee shops, on bridges, and in an empty atrium. Maybe the shape of this season includes intentional pauses and finding a location to do nothing but meet with God. 

I'm going to try to do this on a weekly basis: to very intentionally carve out portion of my day to meet with God somehow. It doesn't have to be Special Tea every time, but a new rhythm needs to form. A rhythm of meeting. A rhythm of expectation. 

A rhythm of sacred spaces.

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