Writing is a way of paying close attention to our lives. Finding just the right words to describe our thoughts, emotions, and experiences can be an act of holy gratitude and a way of opening ourselves to God’s ongoing work within us. When we write alongside others and share some of the words we’ve found, we build trust and community among ourselves.
Writing is Accessible
Writing requires very few supplies and can be accessible to folks of all ages and abilities. Making lists, drawing, talking about our ideas in even the simplest of words – all of this can count as writing which means anyone can do it. God made us to be creatures who speak and make meaning through that process. What if this Advent were a time in which we intentionally joined with God’s creative imagination through our words, through writing?
Gathering to Write: A Four-Week Advent Practice
Gathering to Write is intended to be a multi-generational, four-week Advent practice for small groups. It uses the Advent C lectionary texts, but is adaptable for Advent A or B. Writing prompts and activities are offered for the ‘Young’ and ‘Grown’ each week, but all are invited to follow the Spirit’s nudges and to choose what inspires them. While it probably helps to have someone willing to lead the group by keeping time and opening discussions, the role is informal and could be shared, particularly as the group settles into the rhythm of the sessions. Opening and closing prayers and a suggested schedule for meetings are provided. No homework is required. All activities each week can be completed within about an hour, depending on how chatty your group is.
Gathering to Write is also a devotional resource that could be used by individuals who prefer to write on their own or could be printed as a booklet for families to use together as part of their Advent at-home practices.
A New Context for Writing
For better or for worse, most of us have only experienced writing with others in academic or work settings where our writing may have been judged and judged harshly. This means that most of us bring some anxiety into writing. It’s important to acknowledge this and to take intentional steps to create a new context for writing as a spiritual and imaginative practice so that we can relax, be playful and be surprised by what God might draw out of us on paper. One of the best ways to do this is to avoid complete sentences. Most of our thoughts are loosely connected fragments. Why not allow fragments to form our devotional writing?
This is why lists play a big role in Gathering to Write. Lists are a form in which sentences and paragraphs don’t even make sense, and yet lists do invite you to keep coming up with more ideas. Drawing and doodling are additional forms of communication that may get reluctant or young writers going. Discussing, both before and after people write on their own, is an excellent way to include even our beloved but stubborn folks who are brimming with thoughts even if they won’t pick up a pen.
Advent is a season short on time. Carving out an hour a week to be together and to write is a gift of presence to ourselves, to our community, and to God. Writing may be the stated reason to gather, but the communion that happens along the way is the purpose.
Download Gathering to Write
To download the full Gathering to Write PDF, click here.
If you have questions or want to discuss how best to use Gathering to Write in your parish, contact Lauren Graeber at email@example.com.
Featured image is by Alex Shute on Unsplash
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