Photo Via Unsplash
Photo Via Unsplash

Every morning during my prayer time I write a letter to God in my journal. I ask for help when I need it and I try to remember to give thanks for prayers answered. I like to re-read my journal often: I appreciate remembering my creator’s creative responses to my requests. I also use my daily journal to inventory the previous day: what did I do well and what might I have done better? And I record any guidance I receive during meditation — those wonderful flashes of intuition.

When I was at Pyramid Life Center for the annual Women’s Writing Retreat in 2016, I had one of those flashes: I felt inspired to write about my husband’s life growing up in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation and his later adventures as a merchant marine. When I revisited my journal entries a few weeks later, I was reminded of that divine prompt. In the weeks that followed, the thought returned often during my morning prayer time. My husband was in his 80s and in relatively good health, but his memory was diminishing. At that same time, the health of both my parents was also declining rapidly, and I had increasing responsibilities regarding their care. Still, I felt it was time to write about my husband.

In the fall of 2016, I started sitting with Jose in the evenings and asking him questions to prompt his memory. It wasn’t easy. There was a lot of repetition, skipping around different time periods, and a significant amount of frustration on his part. But I extracted some very interesting stories. We went through his photographs and also connected with some family members in the Philippines and Virginia to fill in a few holes.

Since I work best with deadlines, I rented a pavilion in a local park for a family party in July of 2017, where I planned to provide copies of the finished product. I advised family members of the date so they could book flights if necessary. I worked steadily on what became a small book, using an easy online publishing program. In early May, I asked a few friends to proof the final draft. Just before Mother’s Day of 2017, I ordered 100 copies for family and friends.

My father had a heart attack on Mother’s Day. The next few months were filled with hospital visits, finding a new place for my parents to live, moving them, and a variety of health care and financial arrangements.

Nearly 100 friends and family attended our party on the July 4th weekend of 2017. “My Memories: Island Roots, Sailor Dreams,” by Jose Samson (as told to Anne Samson), was launched, and my husband’s memories were preserved for posterity. In December of 2017, Jose was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. In February of 2018 he died.

I am grateful for the guidance God provides during prayer and meditation. I am grateful for my spiritual journaling practice. Come to Pyramid Life Center for the weekend of Sept. 6-8 and be encouraged to start or continue your own spiritual journaling practice. Communicate with the God of your understanding. Listen and be prompted by your own flashes of inspiration.

Miracles abound.

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