Writing a Spiritual Autobiography

Lacking catechism or creed, Quakers have always relied upon Friends’ spiritual autobiographies to provide dynamic examples of our faith, from George Fox to John Woolman and beyond. “If you think about it,” says Don McCormick, “some of the most influential books in the history of Quakerism were spiritual autobiographies.”

Don recently taught a course on writing spiritual autobiography at his meeting, and made some important discoveries about himself in the process. “I began to realize that the spirituality in my life also has to do with the quality of my relationships,” he explains. “There was more spirituality infused in my life than I had realized… And I am just loving revisiting that and thinking about it and doing it.”

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4 thoughts on “Writing a Spiritual Autobiography

  1. I appreciate this video so much! I have begun to notice that I too am starting to “out” myself as a Quaker in public settings and conversations. I hadn’t thought about describing myself as a public Quaker instead of a private Quaker but that is a great way to put it.
    Thanks too for giving me ideals to aspire to as a public Quaker. Great food for thought!

    1. I wrote an article about spiritual autobiography for Friends Journal. It should be coming out in a future issue fairly soon. I also like Dan Wakefield’s book “The Story of Your Life: Writing a Spiritual Autobiography.” If you are particularly interested in Quaker spiritual autobiography, there is Howard Brinton’s book, “Quaker Journals: Varieties of Religious Experiences Among Friends.”

  2. I just want to make a comment that is off subject most. My grandparents went to the Meeting in Grass Valley many years ago. I remember sitting beside my grandmother in the circle when I was a kid. They moved to Grass Valley in particular because there was a Meeting there. They were Harry and Mattie Woolsey and it has been a long time ago. It was very strange to hear you say you went to the meeting in Grass Valley.

    A few years ago I went on a delegation to Hebron with the Christian Peacemakers Team. The group I went with was mostly Brethren except for me and a couple from New Zealand. On the bus going to the airport at the end of the two weeks one of the Brethren asked me “How did you get to be the way you are without the church?” It had struck me as most odd as in the shared taxi going from the airport to Jerusalem, a Jewish lady was talking with me and in the course of the conversation she expressed surprise that I could be from the part of texas I am living in because, “I did not know there were any religious there” Sometimes the spiritual autobiography can be much wider than we would ever expect.

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