The memoir mine: spiritual experiences
Put “spiritual memoir” in the Amazon search window, and you’ll find more than 8,000 results. They cover a broad range of religious and spiritual experience, from stories of meeting Jesus to the spiritual journeys of Zen masters and witches. Spiritual revelation may come via a medical crisis or the shock of success. Regardless, when it happens to us, we often want to write about it.
Because spiritual experience transforms people, it’s worth exploring as a potential mine of memoir material. Although I had an un-religious upbringing, some soul searching helped me see events in my early years that turned my mind toward spiritual life. Years later, I came to embrace spiritual beliefs more fully. I have written essays about some of the early experiences.
What about you?
Maybe you have struggled against the religion of your childhood. Have you found your spiritual center late in life? Or has life has thrown something at you that your faith didn’t prepare you for? Could this be the raw material for a spiritual memoir?
I have enjoyed many spiritual memoirs. Kathleen Norris’s The Cloister Walk gave me a wonderful introduction to the worlds of liturgy and monasticism. I delighted in her poetic writings on the Psalms and saints and celebrations. In Soul Survivor, author Philip Yancey revealed the most influential writers who helped his faith survive trying times.
Most recently, I read Pilgrim Strong by Steve Watkins, subtitled Rewriting my story on the Way of St. James. Steve’s book invites us along as he walks the famous pilgrim trail across Spain, the 500-mile Camino de Santiago. (I’ve dreamed of walking that path myself.) The physical challenges are matched by spiritual challenges. The many joys in the journey included relationships with fellow pilgrims, and a stronger relationship with God.
Steve’s book wedges many practical tips for the trail between chapters describing the landscape, people, food, and physical demands of his camino. The writing is smooth and clear, evidence of his years as a journalist. I enjoyed the read, and recommend it to you.
I’m near completing a memoir about a life-changing trip in 1965. I invite you to share that journey with me. You can sign up here for my occasional newsletters, which will include progress toward publication. And I’d love to hear from you! Please keep in touch.