I have recently written a book, which is to be published in April by TAT Press in the USA. It’s a memoir titled This Above All.
The review copy, the work in progress.
I’ve been asked, why a memoir, and I’ve asked myself this question too. The thing is, I didn’t decide to write a memoir. I simply got in a writing mood and found after some time that I had in fact written the bones of a memoir, my spiritual memoir.
The few people I shared it with encouraged me to continue with it on the basis that spiritual memoir is a well known genre of spiritual book. Actually, I had read many spiritual memoirs myself and had for years tried to seek out memoirs written by women. There is a serious shortage of spiritual memoirs written by women, I think. Or, at least, I haven’t come across them.
Recently I came across an article on the topic of sharing recovery stories in twelve step programmes.
The following three points were listed as the reason for sharing recovery stories; to give hope, to shatter stigma, to share the solutions.
It struck me that these are the same reasons for writing or reading a spiritual memoir.
To Give Hope
In a culture where the notion of spiritual fruition is seen as strange, exotic and rare, or even dangerous and a waste of time, if it has even been heard of, it is necessary, I think to share the story of what it is really about. Stories are how we share knowledge and experiences with each other.
Like a recovery story, a spiritual memoir says, “yes, this happened to me and so it can happen to you”.
It is about recovery from the sense of isolation and loneliness and insecurity that most individuals in our culture is beset with.
To Shatter Stigma
Make no mistake, spiritual growth is about becoming “happier” or more in touch with who you really are. Surely, that’s practical and desirable for everyone. So, far from spiritual work being for the few and being some kind of optional add on to your life, spiritual work cuts to the quick of what it means to be a human being. It speaks to what is known as “the human condition”, our condition of suffering and dissatisfaction.
A spiritual memoir humanises the path of spiritual fruition. It documents one persons version of this universal journey. It illustrates that this journey is the same journey everyone is on, whether or not they are conscious of it.
There is a point in the journey of life where many people become suspicious or conscious that the life they are living is not the journey they thought they were on. There is a becoming conscious of the bigger dimension of what it is to be a human being and is often the beginning of spiritual seeking. Sometimes people are seeking but not conscious of what they are at. The point comes where such a one becomes a conscious seeker as opposed to an unconscious seeker. Reading a spiritual memoir can move a person on from unconscious to conscious seeking. This is a milestone on the journey.
Sometimes people are just hoping there is something more to life than what they are experiencing. A spiritual memoir can confirm this wish for a person and encourage them to take on the journey.
To Share Solutions
A spiritual memoir shares the ups and down of the authors path. It shares the kind of practises, the understandings, motives and difficulties the individual experienced along the way. It shows the progress, the stages of this unfoldment. It gives an outline of the whole journey. A spiritual memoir is a map of the spiritual process and like all maps it gives an overview of the terrain to be traversed on this path. It shows that someone has traversed this path before you. The memoir is but a setting out of tracks and milestones along the path. It shows that there is a path, a well trodden path despite it being in the undergrowth of our psyches. It is accessible to everyone but we do have to look for it.
A spiritual memoir can inspire, inform and alert the reader to the intimacy of the journey for themselves.
My hope is that my memoir, This Above All, achieves these aims.