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by Frances Hammond
Spiritual Autobiography is a 5-week series during Lent when we take some time to reflect on our spiritual journey, share our faith experiences, and hear the stories of others. It’s a powerful and transformative experience that is hard to put into words. And so we’ve asked past participants to share their experience in the hope that it will encourage you to give it a try as well. (Sign up or more info here.)
If you are asking yourself, “What is Spiritual Autobiography?” let me just begin by saying it is one of the most meaningful and useful exercises that I have undertaken.
At first, considering my own spiritual journey seemed like an enormous undertaking and then I was worried that I wouldn’t really have anything to write or share. In fact, neither of those fears were realized. I found it enormously helpful to have the exercise ‘modeled’ by the clergy. I can still remember what they all shared in your autobiographies. I was deeply affected by their willingness to make themselves vulnerable in our midst. It gave me courage and also some inkling of the opportunities for thinking about my spirituality more broadly than I might have without that example.
The small group to which I was assigned were not people I would have chosen. In fact, I don’t think that going in, I knew anyone. However, over the course of the series, we became quite attached to each other. Over the weeks, in turn, we shared our spiritual autobiographies. We were good listeners. It was humbling to hear how God works in the lives of others and inspiring to have them notice how God has worked in my life, even in ways that I had not noticed. I did make a lasting friendship in the group and it came from the way that person found a personal connection with my story.
I participated in this Lenten class a few years ago. More recently I wrote a Spiritual Autobiography for another class. When I went back to compare it with the one I had written for the lenten class, I found that while it was the same life, I had chosen to emphasize very different aspects. I find it remarkable how organic this process is. God meets us where we are and visits us and helps us forward through others.