Fr. Dale Matson
I am now in my 19th year of daily Journaling. There have been a couple of times that I have considered destroying the journals rather than having my wife do so, as she has promised me, at my passing. In a book I am finishing now however, I was able to draw upon a recorded dialog and include it in the book. This makes the third book I have been able to supplement with information and details I could never have remembered so completely and accurately. So, for those who anticipate that they may write a book, I would recommend that they maintain a daily journal for that reason alone.
Secondly these journals include important information about exams by medical specialists. This includes baseline information and dates of examinations, should I need reports for a current specialist. In a sense they are a kind of health history or “personal chart”. One connection I was able to make on my own was the relationship between my weight (recorded daily) and my blood pressure. Twenty pounds means the difference between blood pressure problems and no problems.
For my latest book, I was able to draw upon 18 years of my personal journals that gave longitudinal insight into my own spiritual development. Part of this new book includes conversations I had with Mary the mother of Jesus that I excerpted from my journals from 1994 and 95. That was a tough time for me emotionally and looking back now I realize I was still a very broken individual. Essentially over a period of 9 months, Mary re-parented me and taught me what a normal woman was like. In this case God provided a spiritual mom. It remains amazing to me how one can be sober for eleven years (in 1995), have developed cognitively and professionally yet still not mastered Erik Erikson’s first stage of psychosocial development, “Trust vs. Mistrust”. As I look back on that time, I am sad for myself and those that had to relate to me.
One thing that I am convinced of is that saints are not holy in the sense of perfection but in the sense of their dependence (reliance) upon God and their relationship to Him. That is why a man like King David could be a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), yet was quite sinful in other ways. It is never a matter of our worthiness to receive God’s blessings. It is always God’s graciousness and sovereignty that determine this. That is why it is all too easy to see the path to God as us climbing some spiritual ladder (works), when it is more a matter of submission to God, trust, faith and obedience, seeking His will for our lives. These too can be turned into works if we are not careful. That is why we must continually look to Christ as our righteousness and only means of salvation. We were created for fellowship with God. An attitude of prayer keeps the lines of communication open so when can hear His still small voice.
The only thing that I would change is to keep my journal as a digital file also. In this way, I could do a digital word search on any topic. There are other numerous reasons for keeping a journal. For two more postings on journaling, type the word “journal” in the soundings search box.