Would you write down what your experience means?
There is a quirky show on PBS each week entitled 800 Words! On the surface, it has all the makings of Serio – Sitcom 101: hapless widowed writer dad has moved his 17 year old daughter and 14 year old son from a major Australian city to this tiny New Zealand backwoods Lewisboro-like town (filled with the oddest assortment of characters this side of Mayberry RFD – for those of you old enough to remember Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney Fife). Each week the protagonist dad deals with situations in which tragedy, hyper sexuality, hubris, adolescent angst, foolish choices or just plain stupid bad luck have immersed him. And while this show will never rival Call the Midwife or even Downton Abby, it does have its moments.
The signature scene at the end of each episode (similar to the family dinners of Blue Bloods) is our “hero” writing his 800 word blog article each week for the newspaper for which he used to work. And it is always 800 words (thus the title). Of course he always succeeds in capturing the point of the episode with this reflection on what he has learned (or should have learned) each week.
So I wonder: In any given week would you be able to reflect upon your experience(s) and capture such meaning(s) for yourself or anyone else in a short space. Would you be honest enough to laugh or cry at “what we have done and what we have failed to do,” and share them for all to observe and critique? Would you be able to take a hard look at not only yourself but also those most dear to you, and try to see everything through the lens of truth rather than the filter of tolerance? Are you willing to learn from what you write, and turn a personal reflection into a launching pad for growth and change that others probably see you need but we never see this in ourselves.
I believe that this process was once called “writing a spiritual journal.” It may very well be that the somber disciplines of a penitential sense like Lent can give way to something more uplifting and perhaps more challenging. But to capture the meaning of your week: just how many words would it take? And how honest would you be?