Many contemplatives and other figures from history have seen writing as a spiritual discipline and even an act of obedience. I find it illuminating to hear what they have to say about putting pen to paper (or, in our case, fingers to keys). This week we’ll look briefly at the Spanish mystic Teresa of Avila.
In her great work on prayer, The Interior Castle, Teresa reveals why writing is an act of faith. She begins by beseeching God to speak for her because “I wasn’t able to think of anything to say.” This certainly gives hope to those of us sometimes afflicted with writer’s block today! God seems to have answered Teresa’s plea, for by the end of her book, she’s explaining why she has so much to say. The reason is simple: just as God’s not finished with his work, so Teresa is not finished with hers. A God of greatness inspires a great outpouring of words.
You will think, Sisters, that since so much has been said about this spiritual path it will be impossible for anything more to be said. Such a thought would be very foolish. Since the greatness of God is without limits, His works are too. Who will finish telling of His mercies and grandeurs?
Teresa also echoes St. Augustine in avowing that the more we know about God’s works, the more we will praise him. That’s a good reason to keep writing:
He grants us a great favor in having communicated these things to a person through whom we can know about them. Thus the more we know about His communication to creatures the more we will praise His grandeur and make the effort to have esteem for souls in which the Lord delights so much.
Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was a Spanish nun in the Carmelite order. She was a mystic, a founder and reformer of monasteries, a spiritual director, and a writer. Read more here.
Reflection: How is writing an act of faith for you?