A Commonplace Book is an annotated personal anthology. The curator gathers material that strikes his or her fancy: excerpts from books, quotes, poems, lines from movies, lyrics from songs, newspaper observations, bits and pieces from yesteryear, proverbs, prayers, photographs, video clips, cartoons and jokes, or everyday experiences. The compiler of the Commonplace Book is then challenged to offer commentary on this content, lending it a personal touch. The end result can be a diary, a spur to the memory, a way of collecting ideas, a tool for self-analysis, an improvisational form of life review, an archive of creative practices, and a spiritual workshop.
I've been keeping an informal Commonplace Book for most of my life, inspired initially by reading the one by poet W. H. Auden. When I was preaching and speaking regularly, I wrote down illustrations to use in sermons. I put favorite quotes in a database (many of which appear in the Quotes section of Spirituality & Practice). I made copies of pages of books with descriptions of places or unusual ways of expressing ideas that appealed to me; I kept these in binders. I read a lot of books in a year and take notes on them when preparing my reviews; these are placed in the front of the book or in the binders.
Lately, I've been going over these miscellaneous collections and picking my favorites. I consciously look for new material, too, while browsing the Internet. I find it exciting and creative to curate and massage all this material, and I'm eager to share these gems with you. Together we can turn our hearts and minds to many things. The posts here are my Tibetan bell, my cathedral chimes, and my shofar sending out a call to contemplation and action.
Welcome to my digital Commonplace Book!