On Re-reading Old Journals

One sport during lockdown has been dipping into old journals to discover: what was I doing 5, 20, 25 years ago?

For an addicted journal-keeper like myself, who taught hundreds of writing students the habit, these small books can hold treasures. They record 4-month-old milestones for the son soon turning 40, the beauties of seasonal change, the delight of a grandchild’s birth, the cherished memory of conversation with dear friends or excitement of new library books or films.

It’s especially poignant now to read of the mobility we took so lightly then: lunch with Karen, dinner with Mark, hugs, swimming, yoga classes, in-person discussion groups with shared snacks. The travel plans alone seem to echo from another lifetime: pack, prepare talks, print boarding pass. Hard to believe, but in one month, I actually completed two 11-day trips, to CA, WA, Victoria BC and MN, then after doing the laundry, to Ireland!

The struggles seem perennial: to get adequate time for prayer, reading, reflection; then the joy of finding it, the low-energy days of illness, the doubt, worry, then surprise when complex plans work out. Some people are totally forgotten: who was Laura, who required so much mental juice at one time? Events that once seemed disastrous led to surprising new doors and unfolding chapters. Reading with God’s compassion, one can smile wryly at enormous expenditures of time and energy on things that in retrospect matter so little.

And running through journals and lives like a golden thread: the divine presence that sustains through the difficult times and enriches the beautiful ones, giving confidence through tough decisions that God always accompanies.

In difficult times, two blessings:

From Ireland: https://youtu.be/TascsWZPj8U

And from the Bay Area: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLPDcqwdcto

One response to “On Re-reading Old Journals

  1. Kathy, I loved what you’ve written about going through your journals. You are such a marvelous writer and you gathered the content into a lyrical history. Thanks for inspiring me to have a ‘bigger view’ as I tread (plod, plod, plod) through my own years. 😊 warm hug, Joyce

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