Intensely private

Three qualities make the genre of spiritual memoir unique: The spiritual writer uncovers, probes, and honors what is sacred in his or her life story; the writing process itself is a means to spiritual growth; and the end product makes the experience of the sacred available to the reader.

The heart of spiritual memoir is intensely private. It is an intimate conversation between the writer and a great mystery. In traditional spiritual memoir, authors even veer from the story to praise or address the sacred in prayer. “How hidden you are,” Augustine wails in his Confessions, “you who dwell on high in silence, you the sole great God!” Teresa of Avila felt God waiting for her story, addressing God from the outset in her Life of Saint Teresa: :”I pray Him with all my heart for the grace to write this account…The Lord, too, I know, has long desired that it should be written, but I have never been bold enough to begin. May it be to His glory and praise.”

from “Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art and Practice of Spiritual Memoir” by Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, Skinner House