by Linda Post Bushkofsky—
I’ve always wanted to keep a diary. When I was in elementary school, I received a petite pink diary with a lock. I made a few entries, mostly about which boy talked with me or what I was doing in Girl Scouts. Nothing remarkable. Although that diary was long ago recycled, my desire to keep a diary didn’t stop there.
I’ve tried keeping a diary several times since. I have the beautiful, albeit empty, journals to prove it. And when I thought that damage from carpal tunnel syndrome was keeping me from writing by hand (turns out, it really wasn’t), I tried keeping a digital diary. That worked as well as the pretty journals. It was me. Something in me thought I should keep a journal, but another something in me said no way.
Until the pandemic came along.
In April 2020 I began keeping a journal, recording what was happening in the pandemic. Sixteen months later, I am still writing. It’s not a daily thing. But I’m into my third journal, recording things about how our lives changed during the pandemic. I’ve written about baker’s yeast and toilet paper shortages, e-learning and worship via Zoom, gardening and grocery home deliveries. I recorded the death of my father-in law and the cancer diagnosis of my husband, the January 6, 2020 attack on the U.S. Capital and the extraordinary inaugural poem of Amanda Gorman.
Turns out I’m not alone in having kept a pandemic journal. There have been many encouragements along these lines from articles in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time magazine. Such encouragements remind us that we are living through history, and future historians may look back on our writings—the writings of ordinary people—to describe what it was like to live through the pandemic. There are historic reasons to write it all down. And there are therapeutic reasons too.
Writing down my observations, fears, hopes and more helped to reduce some of the stress and strain that came during the long months of the pandemic. With the lines between work and family, private and professional lives blurring in all kinds of new ways, it’s been helpful to have a place to sort it all out. Or at least try.
Are you interested in giving journaling a try? Women of the ELCA offers more than 40 free program resources, including “Journaling: Create your own sacred writings.” If you’re looking for program ideas, I recommend you visit welca.org/resources. With so many varied resources, you’ll be able to build even more meaningful experiences for the women of your unit.
If you’re not part of a congregational unit of Women of the ELCA, you’re still welcome to use the free resources produced by Women of the ELCA. Many are ideal for personal use. (Go to welca.org/resources and sort the resources using the “categories” feature.) You might like to invite some friends to explore a resource or two with you. Or suggest one or more of the resources for use in an adult forum in your congregation.
However you use our resources, they are intended as a free gift to help us all to grow in faith and engage in ministry and action.
Linda Post Bushkofsky is executive director of Women of the ELCA. She’s a member of United Lutheran Church, Oak Park, Illinois, where her husband, Dennis, serves as pastor.