lenten journal: at a loss for words


I think it was the early Nineties when I first started keeping a Lenten Journal as a spiritual practice. It was before I had e-mail or any kind of web access. For the first few years, I would choose one friend and write him or her an entry everyday without their even knowing I was doing so. On Easter Monday, I printed it all out, went to Kinko’s and had it bound, and then mailed it to them. When I began using e-mail, I widened the scope and sent it out nightly. In December 2005, I started writing this blog and made it a part of what I did here, along with continuing to send it to the e-mail list. Every year there are a few days when, for one reason or another, I don’t get to write.

This year has been different. I am doing well. There are no major crises in my life. When I sit down to write, however, I haven’t been able to find the words. Since I started my new job last summer, I have read more than I have in years. My heart and my mind are full. It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I even jotted some notes this afternoon. Yet, when I come to this page, I feel compelled to be quiet. It’s not writer’s block. There are things to say; it’s just not time for me to say them. I want to listen, right now, more than I want to speak, which may be one of the most uncharacteristic sentences I have ever written.

Someone sent me a note today to make sure I was alright, so I decided to write about why I have not written, mostly to say this year turned out differently than I expected. My silence is not a crisis; it’s just silence. It—like the twenty-five years of Lenten Journals, I suppose—is not permanent. I will write again soon. That’s about all the schedule I have.

Thanks for sharing the journey.



  1. Listening is in short supply these days. As always, you inspire us, even in your thoughtful silence. Glad you are well and your heart and mind are full.

  2. Everything has a season and it’s good not to force writing. The idea of writing discipline each day is good but that was never meant to mean making it all public. I like you following your heart on this.

  3. This is an interesting development. I remember Pat Conroy saying God’s gift to a writer is an unhappy childhood. Does crisis make writing better? Does it make it imperative? You write to learn, I used to teach my students. I see clearly that writing helps us to learn about ourselves. But I am pretty sure we never stop doing that learning; at least I hope not. Aging makes every day so different.

    But a pause may be a necessary practice. Bill stopped watching the news and reading FB last week. I’ll miss reading your thoughts. Sometimes they are so apropos to things that are happening around here it makes me wonder how you know?

  4. What I like about this blog, besides Milty’s remarkable writing, is that each of us, can comment and continue the dialog in his silence. Thanks again for the ride! I use silence to set my day walking my dog around the lake each morning. God speaks so clearly in listening silence.

  5. Many of us spend a lifetime learning to listen for God’s voice in the silence. It seems natural that we would find our own voice there as well. I am delighted to hear that your heart and mind are full. Your writing inspires, whether it be daily, weekly, or simply occasionally.

  6. Milton,
    Remember we had crazy times in the ICU and we relished the quiet but, also feared it ..what was next! Enjoy the quiet, the silence, the listening. We sometimes need to be still. Friends always, Sharon

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