For a while now at our church, there has been an extension of a house-group into a monthly whole-church meeting called Closer. Encouragingly, it attracts a good number - folk eager to press in and experience God more deeply. Typically, members of the band play an extended time of worship while people pray, speak out God's words or simply stay quiet. In a corner, a few ladies paint beautiful works of art, which in turn add to the prophetic tone of the meeting.
Recently, I was invited to take part in a bigger Closer event, scheduled for the Spring Bank Holiday. The organisers wanted to offer a variety of creative opportunities, and they suggested I lead one on Creative Writing. I jumped at the chance, seeing it as a new way of engaging in worship after years of playing music; and I'm happy to report the afternoon a success.
We began to write together, me choosing an oval-shaped piece of card which I filled with words by circling into the middle. We read to each other, and again found connection as our words touched each other's hearts. More people joined our table as the afternoon wore on, some clearly nervous and feeling they didn't know where to start. I showed them some quotes I had found about writing, including this absolute cracker from William Wordsworth: Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. As each person let an object roll around their palm, the words began to come. One lady was holding a pretty semi-precious stone, commenting on how it made her feel and all the time declaring that she didn't know what to write down. I practically shoved a pen into her hand and urged her, "Quick! Just write everything you're saying!"
The afternoon was a reminder to me of how simple writing is, at its core. Its very simplicity is often the thing that allows God to speak into our hearts, and from our hearts to others'. If you've let yourself get a bit bogged down by it lately, why not make yourself a brew, pick up an object that catches your eye, and start writing?
Jane Clamp is Creative Writer in Residence on the Sunday Breakfast Show of BBC Radio Norfolk and on the Thought of the Day team at Premier Radio. She is Groups' Coordinator for ACW and runs Brecks, Fens and Pens, based in West Norfolk.