When I recently packed to travel to help care for my grandsons, I packed my journals. I have kept journals off and on for years. Before she was even born, I started one journal to my daughter. I continued to her 17th birthday, when I gave it to her as a present. She told me years later in the midst of an emotional crisis she turned to the journal, reading through it to ground herself. I never thought about it serving that purpose for her. However, I know at times I read back through my own, reminded of difficult things I came through and of pleasant memories I can briefly relive.
As a therapist, I often encouraged clients to journal for the therapeutic value of it. One woman would journal at my office and would leave her writing with me as she did not want her thoughts discovered at home, while she sought to unravel her tangled feelings and seek her path forward.
Last summer at my pastorate in Florida, by some circuitous route, one of my husband Terry’s long-ago clients found a number for me. For safekeeping, she had secured at her grandmother’s house a copy of her record of treatment as a teenager. Her grandmother had recently died and she was closing down her grandmother’s home. There she discovered the chart, a journal of sorts, that carried the story of her treatment. Now an adult with children of her own, she wanted to let Terry know how well her life had turned out and how much she valued his help at a critical time.
My husband, a combat veteran of two tours in Vietnam, is now writing his memoir of those years. George Orwell said “Good writing is like a windowpane.” I see the windowpane my husband is creating, the relief as he unburdens himself. He often spoke of Vietnam in years past but usually in a more detached way. Now some deeper part of him is open to live more fully.
I now keep journals for my grandsons. I don’t know if they will be meaningful to them someday. But as I wrote in their journals yesterday while Jenna and Gabriel napped and Sebastian played, Sebastian wanted to “write” in his. I let him scribble on some blank pages. He interpreted his markings: “I love you from my happy birthday.” (We hear a lot about his birthday which occurred a month ago. He insists he will have another one soon!) So maybe someday it will mean something to him that his Nana kept a journal for him. Maybe he will even keep his own.
May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter. Shalom, Kate
Hope’s Café Bonus: If you need a little snack while you write, here is a 3 ingredient cookie recipe from my daughter: 2 c. rolled oats; 3 overripe bananas; ½ c. nut butter; ¼ c. chocolate chips, optional. Drop by spoonsful on parchment paper on baking sheet at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Best hot out of the oven. Once cooled, best warmed just a bit. Enjoy!