The Holiness of Dry Times

2012-01-20 11.23.09By Stephanie Gretchen Burgevin. Stephanie is a writer and retreat leader. She is an associate faculty member of Shalem and a graduate of their Leading Contemplative Prayer Groups and Retreats Program and leads spiritual and secular programs. Stephanie manages Shalem’s blog. You can see more of her writing at

My guess is that we’ve all experienced them: dry times. Those periods when the well within you has no more to give. It can happen emotionally, professionally, spiritually…basically in any area of life.

I have been a writer since I was about 12. Getting it down on paper was how I got through middle school, high school, the struggles of growing up, joys, pains, and momentous occasions. Then one day I just couldn’t write. Whoa! This was a major shift for me.

I’ve experienced dry patches in all areas of my life and have found that it doesn’t matter how hard I try to get the magic back. I can push and go through all the regular moves that normally helped get my creative/professional/spiritual juices flowing only to be met by a hollow response.

Frustration, panic, anger, fear, sadness, dejection…yep, felt all of those. The darndest thing is that we can’t DO anything about it but maybe be open. It’s about Grace, and perhaps patience. Taking a look at myself and realizing that for reasons I don’t understand, now is not the time to write. Now is the time for something else perhaps, like stopping, and waiting, and being.

It eventually comes back, maybe in a different way or maybe as a different leading. There’s been an internal change that I may or may not be aware of, but something has shifted and thankfully Grace has visited again. Eventually peace is restored.

As always, it seems, the trick is being patient and staying in the trusting mode, knowing that Spirit is right there even in the dryness.

What has been your experience?

January 01, 2014 by Shalem Institute 1 Comment
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10 years ago

I used to have this problem when I had to write reports for a living. I was on a timeline and could not allow for “waiting” so what worked for me at that point was to start writing a letter to my mother. When I had finished the letter to mom, I was “in flow” and could write the report that needed to be written. (I worked from home so this was not an issue of using personal time at work.) I think it would be different if what I wrote was “creative writing,” where you are starting from scratch and I definitely have experienced those dry spots…one key is to build into your schedule some self-feeding types of activities. Retreat leaders need to go on retreat!


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