CANFIELD Workshop to explore spiritual journeys

A wellness expert said people are searching for renewed spiritual awareness since Sept. 11.
CANFIELD -- People may not have thought of writing their spiritual autobiographies, but Carol Gottesman thinks it's a great idea.
The wellness expert from Hubbard is offering a workshop on the topic through the Health Choices Network. Gottesman often gives programs on spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health.
The autobiography is a new twist on the tradition of keeping a journal that may include thoughts or feelings on matters of faith.
And there's a long tradition of writing about personal faith. One of the best known is in the New Testament, where St. Paul the Apostle wrote of his conversion from persecutor of Christians to proponent of Jesus.
"My idea is that we have spiritual experiences. But we don't acknowledge them because they aren't really accepted in the physical, material world of reality," Gottesman said. "But there is a spiritual lifeline that runs underneath our physical world, so to speak. If we could start to identify these experiences and share them with people who are supportive of them, we could incorporate them into our everyday lives that would give our lives more vibrancy, purpose and meaning."
Acknowledging: People today may be hesitant to speak of their faith journey for fear of ridicule.
"People think they don't have spiritual experiences," Gottesman said. "We all have them."
Negating our spiritual experiences stifles our own growth and any benefit from them, she added.
"Writing a spiritual autobiography is the idea of writing experiences you have that have impacted on your life," Gottesman continued.
People may not have time to write a full account of their spiritual walk for the upcoming workshop. Instead, Gottesman said she would ask people to write about one experience.
Simpler moments: Participants may not have stories as dramatic as Paul's 180-degree spiritual turn on the road to Damascus.
People may have experiences about doing something for a child or spouse, or caring for someone who is ill, an appreciation of the outdoors or a coincidence that the writer found meaningful.
Those experiences also can range from formal rituals such as a christening or baptism to the spiritual experience of the holidays.
Gottesman said she recently did a program on spiritual autobiographies at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in Akron that was so popular, three more sessions have been scheduled.
The workshop is being offered now in an effort to bring spirituality into the new year and in the aftermath of Sept. 11.
"People are really reaching for more and re-evaluating their priorities and feeling they need something that can give them more strength to deal with these uncertain times," she said.
The workshop is from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Ursuline Center in Canfield. The cost is $30 at the door. Call (330) 782-3554 or (330) 759-9303 for more information.

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