Visiting Lebuïnus’s Well (Deventer, Netherlands)

in Dutch: Lebuïnus put

Visiting Lebuïnus Church’s Well in the Netherlands

It is six o’clock. My husband and I leave the comfort of our warm bed for an hour of meditation after which we skip breakfast and head for Central Station on our bare feet. Having done penance and being in a spiritually heightened state before our pilgrimage to the Church of St. Lebuïnus is a good thing. That is, ideally. Nobody needs to know that we sleep till 8, after which we enjoy breakfast, a comfortable 1st class journey, and a coffee -with cake- near the main church of Deventer, a Hanseatic League city at the Dutch river IJssel.

I am eager to visit a well and my husband is perfectly fine with a nice day out for whatever reasons. Recently, I read Katherine May’s Enchantment in which she and a friend visit Black Prince Well in the village of Harbledown (UK). Reading her reflections on visiting a well made me question how many sacred springs and wells I have visited in my life. I can list a few abroad, mainly in the UK like Bath, Winchester, one near Hadrian’s Wall, and few in Italy, Germany and Austria. In the Netherlands, my home country, I have visited Springendal since my early youth. ‘Springendal’ loosely translates as valley of springs, which shows there are a few natural springs.

I like to visit a well again and do it right, although, like Katherine May, I have no idea what right is. Katharine May mentions that ‘You are in fact the one who fills the well’ because we seem to have forgotten the rules of engagement. Should I use the water to draw a small cross on my forehead? Should I sense the well giving me energy? At Geology and History class we learn how springs and wells are formed and how vital these were from prehistoric times till the time of tap water. But spiritually, we seem to have forgotten what to do near a well. Or perhaps not.

The evening before we plan our visit, I Google the well. I can’t find information when and how it came into existence. Is it man made and later Christianized? It looks like it. There are no records of any wonders that happened after drinking its water. Pilgrimages in the 13-14th century took place to venerate the remains of Saint Lebuïnus, not because of the well.  

Lebuïnus Church

We arrive at a large church that -far back in time- most likely started as a wooden hut placed near or over a well. This is the church of Lebuïnus, who was an 8th century Anglo-Saxon missionary.  Lebuïnus (LebuinLebwin or Liafwin) was an apostle of the Frisians and patron of Deventer but born in England. In between Lebuïnus’s preaching the Gospel in the vicinity of Deventer and dying there in c. 775, there is a lot of building, church burning, fleeing to Germany, and returning to Deventer. If you think erecting a church as a straightforward job, you think wrong.

Saint Lebuïnus

The colossal church we visit today was completed in 1525. We walk around the church and find it a delight. The sun shines and the sand-coloured stones give it a soft feel. The interior of the church enhances this impression with its friendly pastel palette of off-white, soft peach pink, and Naples’ sand yellow. It is what some would describe as the inside of a human body, that of flesh. We enjoy its wonderful frescoes. They have the same peach-creamy hues which are very appealing. No bright Medieval blue, red, and yellow, but pastel coloured Bible scenes and lots of botanical decorations. 

It is time to enter the 11th century crypt and to see what I came for, the well. We are used to dark and gloomy crypts, but this one is different. Similar to the church, the crypt has whitewashed walls and is full of soft light. Open apertures filter the light from the church windows which give this crypt a luminous feel despite its strong Romanesque pillars.

There is no reference that this is a sacred well, no information. Later, a volunteering church lady tells me that it is connected to the river IJssel, which runs nearby. The well itself is a hole in the ground in the centre of the crypt. An ugly metal grid is placed over the well, it is the kind of grid you use for brushing off mud from your shoes. This cheap modern grill allows you to see the well and to offer coins but it speaks volumes in frugality.  

There is no reference that this is a sacred well, no information. Later, a volunteering church lady tells me that it is connected to the river IJssel, which runs nearby. The well itself is a hole in the ground in the centre of the crypt. An ugly metal grid is placed over the well, it is the kind of grid you use for brushing off mud from your shoes. This cheap modern grill allows you to see the well and to offer coins but it speaks volumes in frugality. 

Today there is no water in the well. Looking through the grid is still pretty because of its stone walls and the layer of donated coins. In my imagination, I picture how the well looks like with water covering the coins. On my way out of the church I ask the same church lady if the water has permanently receded. Absolutely not, but since the Dutch allow the river to overflow and take up more room, there is less flooding in the crypt. This, the lady says, is a good thing because with the water also comes muddy residue. The lady goes on saying that the crypt has been a safe house for nuns during times of religious battles, as well as a bunker for those seeking safety during WWII bombardments. Nowhere in her story do I sense a reverence for the water well. 

Deventer’s Lebuïnus Church close to the river IJssel

We sit down in the crypt and so does an older man. He closes his eyes and goes into prayer. A few tourists enter but they -respectfully- keep their voices down. There is a prayer book, an altar and two burning candles with the Α and Ω symbols. The crypt is a welcoming place. But that cheap grid leaves an impression that this well is not important. At home, it takes me half an hour to find its name, ‘Lebuïnus put’, meaning Lebuïnus’s well, despite that it most likely dates to the Bronze and Iron Age. Archeological findings confirm Deventer as a very old river side settlement.

Early Christianity had to allow pagan elements, like this well, to bind folks to Christianity. Should the church crack down too hard on pagan traditions, this would estrange those who still held ancestral beliefs. Gradually pagan elements were neglected and ‘deliberately’ forgotten. Perhaps this well will suffer this fate too. That said, it might have been Christianized by Lebuïnus but even that isn’t mentioned in the church. 

Winchester Cathedral does it better. It tells the amazing history of its well and its hero. This cathedral lies on a hill and is situated over its well. Diver William Walker (1869–1918) saves Winchester’s church from imminent danger of collapse as it starts to sink slowly into the ground. Walker shores up the walls by putting concrete underneath them. He works six hours a day—in complete darkness, because the sediment suspended in the water was impenetrable to light. He is commemorated with a small statute whilst inside Winchester cathedral many holy men lie in their large and richly elaborate graves. I will never forget this disproportionate honour. Imagine William Walker having been a woman; her statute would be as small as a pinhead. That said, Winchester’s well is part of its historical narrative contrary to Lebuïnus’s well that is missing an information board. For many it will just be a hole in the ground, safely ‘sealed’ with a grid. 

We visit Lebuïnus’s well on a day when it is dry. If healing properties are connected to water, one has a problem. But if beneficial qualities are related to a place, rather than to water, then the absence of water is no problem. The water level in the IJssel River is high. The church lady expects the water to rise in the well during the day. I would have loved to see that because looking at coins feels like looking into an old treasure chest.

That said, the coins tell a story of how we behave near a sacred well. We haven’t collectively forgotten how we interact with holy places. We trust the well with our wishes and because we understand reciprocity, we offer a coin. And why do we offer a coin? We have no idea but offering something metal goes as far back as the Iron Age. 

Archeologists believe that during the Iron Age anything metal that had lost its form and gained a new shape by the fires of a blacksmith testifies of having a soul. Perhaps this was because on a chemical level metallurgy wasn’t understood and the processes like welding or metalworking looked magical. Sometimes an Iron Age sword of shield was not even utilized but offered to gods who resided in lakes. These offerings took place in western Europe, and we still do this; we offer coins to wells and fountains. 

The Witham Shield is an Iron Age decorative bronze shield dating from about the 4th century BC. The shield was discovered in the River Witham, England in 1826.

We sit near the well and are invited to trust our prayer to the crypt prayer’s book. We offer a coin, a kind gesture to the well itself, because it isn’t about the money, it is about offering a metallic object that we -far back in time- regarded as having a soul. Our offer is not a lifeless object, no object of monetary value, but a spiritually valuable object. We have learned from our ancestors that there is something beneficial about interacting with sacred springs. It allows and perhaps invites our prayers and welcomes our offerings. More than any other thing, except perhaps for a cave or a tree, we share intimate thoughts and feelings with a well, especially on an emotional or spiritual level. We are in communion with it. 

I leave a prayer in the crypt’s prayer book. I do not feel comfortable with sending a wish list up to the saints above for myself but for someone else I am happy to pray. Our financial donation is done via a digital payment system at the exit but not before I look for a postcard. There is no postcard of the crypt or the well. It is a good thing I had knowledge of the well before visiting the church because I might have overlooked it.

Lebuïnius’s well has survived under the immense weight of our shifting religious preferences. However, it now seems overlooked. What we need to do is offering coins and interacting with it. And above all, it should have a less industrial grid. Otherwise, perhaps it might be forgotten as the geological, historical, and perhaps spiritual reason why this massive church was built on the banks of the river IJssel.

It is my wish that next time we will visit Lebuïnus’s well it will be decorated with an exquisite and artistic grid, like that of Glastonbury’s Chalice Well.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer, Drs. M.A.

I invite you to enjoy this website that is full of art, art-musings, reflections, diary entries, literature, art-history, and more. I am Paula Kuitenbrouwer freehand-drawing & commission artist. Art is often seen as a luxury but when it comes to joyful, sad, or memorable events in our lives, we are in need for art. Please, feel free discussing commissioned art with me. I was taught drawing and painting by Spanish-Dutch artist Charito Crahay and Dutch artist Johan Kolman. I have an M.A. in Philosophy and enjoyed a few courses at Oxford Department for Continuing Education. Currently, I live with my husband in the Netherlands. Our daughter studies abroad. My portfolio is at Instagram and my shop at Etsy.

Order your Mandarin Duck Art Card (frame-able)

Would you like to order a professionally printed Mandarin Ducks (Aix galericulata) art card or postcard that can be framed? You are at the right place. Over the years I have drawn and painted many Mandarin duck couples as commissions but also free hand.

Two cards are double folded, others are postcards. All come with envelopes. Plus, as long as I have them in stock, I will include an Asian, vintage mandarin duck postal stamp. For large orders I need extra time because large amounts will be printed on demand. Please, contact me for orders of more than 5.

What do I have in stock?

I have this double folded art card with the drake (male duck) on the left side:

and this double folded art card, with the drake on the right side:

Plus, I have two postcards. A monochromatic (a romantic 19s century graphite drawing) post card with mandarin ducks resting near a forest stream:

and this vintage coloured (watercolour) one with mandarin ducks resting under large, lush lotus leaves:

A box with several mandarin duck cards also makes a very nice gift:


In case a postcard is not enough, in case a more substantial gift is needed, I have a few mounted mandarin ducks available too. These are coloured pencil/water-colour original artworks. They are mounted with professional Kadinsky mounts (UK). They will arrive at your home in a strong package. They can be framed but there are customers who do not frame them and put them on their shelves on a small painting’s easel (which I have available as well). For more information on these lovely mandarin ducks, click here. This link provides you with the option to add a small painter’s easel for displaying your mandarin ducks without a frame. Take good care: there are mandarin ducks looking left or right. You probably prefer a mandarin couple looking to the directing of the welcoming door of the room where you will put them on display.

Please, use the contact form, for informing me which art or postcard you prefer and how many, and please add your full address and email. Inform me please also whether you prefer Track & Trace (which will have additional costs of around 5 Euros). I will send an invoice via Paypal.

After you have paid, the Mandarin ducks will take off and migrate a.s.a.p. to your home.

Would you like to order via Etsy, follow this link.

There are many MANDARIN DUCKS at my ETSY. Sometimes I think my Etsy shop is a duck pond with the most colourful and cute ducks imaginable (including wood ducks, teals and swans)

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Why Should you Write a Spiritual Resume (Curriculum Vitae)?

-Some Inter-religious, Multi Religious, Non-denominational Recommendations-

Consisting of two parts this article begins with why one should write a spiritual curriculum vitae (resume). In addition to the why there is the how; how would such a resume look like? Must it be a written piece or are there more creative amalgamations possible? Lastly, some tips on how to grow your spiritual notebook, not so much as to list achievements but more for gratefully reflecting on special experiences. In both two chapters the term Resume is interchangeable with the Latin Curriculum Vitae.

Due to the length of this article, I’ve organized it in two chapters. Here is the shortcut to HOW COULD ONE DRAFT A SPIRITUAL RESUME and HOW TO GROW ONE’S SPIRITUAL RESUME.

Despite having no idea how a spiritual resume looks, a question about how my spiritual curriculum vita would look like, causes low grade panic in me. Spirituality has largely been erased from our society and our society’s rat-race doesn’t allow for us to reflect on other things like costs of living or maintaining my house, or the next holiday. Materialism has become the norm. Inquiring about my spiritual resume is a confrontation with myself; ‘Do I spend enough time on spiritual growth?(Male, midlife age)

Imagine compiling your spiritual resume. There is a big chance you will find large gasps between reading spiritual books, doing spiritual retreats, or musing over spiritual-mystical experiences. That is natural; one cannot have too many spiritual achievements happening in rapid succession. A monastic life is for life for a reason. Should you spiritually burn too brightly, like a candle flame in a drafty place, you consume too much of your wax in a too short time. Also, between spiritual developments, or growth spurts, one needs time to integrate experiences into one’s mundane life. One can’t have spiritual growth without properly transforming spiritual experiences into profound wisdom.

That said, these long white stretches, in which nothing spiritual or no spiritual development seems to happen, sometimes years, do unnerve us. It is important not to put pressure on ourselves. We are here to live a human life, not per-se a holy life, and there are many phases in life that are very down to earth, like growing up, reproduction, and growing older. These are deeply human experiences and should be valued as such. Humanism believes that we can give our lives meaning by seeking happiness and helping others to do the same. A similar idea is voiced by religious believers that we are here -on earth- as spiritual beings living a human life (with all its happiness and misery). This comes close to believers in angels who believe that angels wish for living a human life in order to feel: to smell flowers, to taste honey, to be intimate, to give birth, or to grief. There are many philosophical or religious reasons to value living a human life. We must value its vicissitudes in both blessings and tragedies.

Let us return to our spiritual resume. When one grows older, one sees a lot of closed doors. For women, for instance, that is the reproductive door. For men often that is career improvement. It feels sad to dwell on the past, on the closed doors, and past successes; it is undesirable to cling to the past. Although we welcome reflection on the past, we are especially interested in how to deal with closed doors; how to turn regret, disappointment, hardship into acceptance or blessings? Perhaps one finds the greatest solace in one’s wisdom or transcendent experiences.

What is remarkable about sacred or mystic experiences is that they are stored in your memory -for what seems- forever. Often, they can be recalled with significant ease and decades later one is able to talk about these experiences in great detail.

I have seen things, or experienced things that are more real to me than this world. I know this sounds unbelievable but many who have had spiritual experiences say this. These experiences come with a heightened awareness, more colour, and so much more definition. They make a lasting impression.’

Read, read and read….till you find what you found what you need to gain deeper understanding. Then…keep on reading because you will learn more. Eventually a combination of empirical and theoretical study will become the foundation for genuine wisdom (and resume).

Another extraordinary characteristic is that whilst analysing mystic dreams, or having visions, or feeling God, kundalini or satori, or being in contact with angels or divine beings, one feels ageless. And that is because we are spiritually ageless. When one adopts a broader sense of the meaning of life, or that of lives, in terms of reincarnation, age does seem relevant. What does matter is how one accumulates spiritual growth through life (for some, through multiple lives). It is probably therefore that going through mystical or spiritual experiences is not strictly linked to our aging bodies. Although there are often more spiritual experiences during childhood and midlife, that does not mean that one can attach an age label to a mystical experience itself. Mentioning age and using a chronological timeline is an important feature of a worldly resume but not so much for a spiritual resume.

How then to write a spiritual resume? A standard layout (timeline) of a resume does not seem to work which allows us to give our creativity free hand. See this absence of a formal lay-out as an invitation to give it your own creative format or interpretation.

Finding words to describe a spiritual development, insights or experience is another humongous task. Unless you attended a religious school or a congregation, one can be lost for words.

It took me 35 years to understand that an old medical record of an EEG (electroencephalogram) that sat in my medical files surprisingly belonged to my spiritual files. This EEG was the result of me, as a teen, complaining to my mother about weird things. She had witnessed me being absent minded and talking gibberish over seeing her from far away while she held my hand. Nothing conclusive was found. Later in life I understood that I experienced OBE’s (Out of Body Experiences). When I experienced OBE‘s again, I pondered over what if I had been an Indian or Nepalese teen and my mother had not brought me to a doctor but to a yogi or priest? Perhaps he or she would have understood I was -without suffice terminology- talking about OBE’s and my mother would have been reassured. Maybe I would have received some training to return to my body (because that part was frightening).It took me 35 years to understand that an old medical record of an EEG (electroencephalogram) that sat in my medical files surprisingly belonged to my spiritual files. This EEG was the result of me, as a teen, complaining to my mother about weird things. She had witnessed me being absent minded and talking gibberish over seeing her from far away while she held my hand. Nothing conclusive was found. Later in life I understood that I experienced OBE’s (Out of Body Experiences). When I experienced OBE‘s again, I pondered over what if I had been an Indian or Nepalese teen and my mother had not brought me to a doctor but to a yogi or priest? Perhaps he or she would have understood I was -without suffice terminology- talking about OBE’s and my mother would have been reassured. Maybe I would have received some training to return to my body (because that part was frightening)”.

This quote shows how difficult drafting a spiritual curriculum vitae is. My advice is to accept the challenge and complexity; see it as doing research. Perhaps you need to have a close look at your medical records. Perhaps you have a look at your portfolio, or at your love for animals, or your holiday locations.

We haven’t been trained to write a spiritual essay. That said, nobody will judge your resume. A spiritual resume is perhaps the most personal piece you will ever write. It is such a private document that one should keep it for oneself. Not only because keeping this undisclosed lessens the risk of being misunderstood, or made into a laughingstock, one doesn’t fall into a trap of spiritual ego aggrandizing. Spiritual experiences are only relevant to the person who experiences them; the wisdom that comes because of having these experiences has relevance if, and only if, it is shared properly and ethically.

Why write a spiritual resume? It is not that we still hold the belief that in exchange for a good resume we are granted access to heaven. Painting: Sistine Chapel with Perugino’s Christ Giving the Keys of the Kingdom to St. Peter 1481-83, fresco, (photo: Clayton Tang)

In an interview at Buddha at the Gas Pump, Bri. Joan Shivaripita Harrigan Ph.D., Joan says that most women start writing their spiritual journey and writing their spiritual resume in the vicinity of their 50s. By that time, women have done their worldly ‘duties’ in the sense of education, relations, reproduction and often have gone through menopause. Menopause offers a reorientation on life. ‘If I have 20-30 years left, what will I do, what is important?’  For others, often absorbed by jobs and careers, this moment of spiritual or philosophical re-calibration comes around retirement. Which is on the late side, because by then identification with job-titles and work related achievements have been written in stone and are less easy put aside to create room for a more spiritual orientation on life.

Fragment Spiritual Notebook:

“I sat -in my ‘dream’- in front of an older Tibetan Buddhist master. I knew it wasn’t a dream; it was a meeting. The face of the master was full of ancient wisdom. I expected something to happen, something out of the ordinary. I was filled with fear, but I also noticed how the old master knew this. It was as if a whole lineage of wise masters had a look at me. I calmed and waited and then instead of -what I expected- something was done to me, the master offered me a cup of tea! Later, I thought back of this and I remember being disappointed. Why had I been so afraid? Why only a cup of tea? I wanted to gain deeper insight or a spiritual transformation. Much later, I understood. After having more spiritual experiences, I learned my nervous system is too sensitive for spiritual fireworks. That cup of tea was pure caring kindness. I now think back of this ‘meeting’ as very precious.

(I know the Tibetan master wasn’t a figment of my imagination. I would have never been able to dream up an ancient face that held such unbelievable amount of wisdom. Also, at that time I wasn’t busying myself with Tibetan Buddhism at all! )”.


Writing a spiritual resume will not be a short-term project. It won’t be done in a fortnight. It might be an ongoing process in which more and more white disappears and more experiences, memories, dreams, courses, quotes, will be penned down. In fact, it might morph into an essay that will be revised through the years. It eventually might become a diary or a personal book of prayer.


What are the benefits of drafting a spiritual resume? To me, the answer is a change of focus that will be hugely beneficial. Beneficial in terms of well-being and happiness, and of feeling more whole by connecting the spiritual and the mundane.

Here a warning seems appropriate. A spiritual resume is not about spiritual self-importance. It is not even about growth in the sense of stimulated growth. What it shouldn’t be is just another ego document, aimed at a new career.

What is then its relevance or importance? A spiritual resume, or letter to your angels, or God, opens new doors. It deepens your spiritual focus. The process of writing offers new perspectives, new shifts in life, it prevents clinging to the past. It might prevent growing depressed because contrary to the inevitable age-related physical losses, it is beneficial to see something of yourself that is still growing and developing. It stretches your mind over your whole life (if not beyond it). And you will be surprised how the white fills up itself! Do not for one moment think this is not for you because you haven’t experienced levitation, seen an archangel, or experienced enlightenment. To use a metaphor: just because you aren’t able to paint a Night Watch, it doesn’t mean you can’t colour in a pretty colouring page. Also, a spiritual resume is not about collecting spiritual experiences. It is about weaving these experiences into the mundanity of our daily lives. Like a shift from materialism to a more poetical, spiritual appreciation of life.

There are two more important aspects about a spiritual resume. One is its free form; your resume might take form of a notebook, or an essay, a poem, a painting, an embroidery sample, all creative expressions are permissible. Read more on how to write a spiritual resume in the next post. Furthermore, a spiritual resume or essay will develop, so it is important to choose a format that allows growth. This also will be discussed in the next article.

Wishing you many wonderful and soul-nurturing hours penning down your spiritual resume. I hope this article has been helpful. Should I receive valuable comments, I might post an additional post consisting of these comments (anonymized, if your prefer that). In other words, feel free to use the contact form.

For reading how to write and grow your spiritual resume, click here.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Artist at Etsy and Instagram

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula holds an MA degree in Philosophy and works as an artist in Utrecht. She is the owner of Her pen and pencils are always fighting for her attention nevertheless they are best friends; Paula likes her art to be brainy and her essays to be artistic. Contact Paula freely for commissions or articles.

The next article deals with the question on how to write a spiritual resume and how to grow your spiritual curriculum vitae.

How to Write your Spiritual Resume, or Curriculum Vitae?

-Some Inter-religious, Multi Religious, Non-denominational Recommendations-

Let us start with saying what a spiritual resume isn’t. It is not a document to hand over to others. Writing it is a process cannot a single task, and that process has no fixed beginning or end. A spiritual resume is not about Facts & Figures like ‘I have done 7 retreats in 7 years’ or ‘I had a mystical experience at the age of 13 and 33’. Better describe what happened during that retreat and how did that mystical experience unfold and what did you learn from it? Thus, it is not a record of your spiritual accomplishments; it is a description of these spiritual achievements. Should you like to mention meditation or prayer, instead of recording the hours you have put into that, what about describing how your meditation or prayer has developed over time? Describe your spiritual blossoming instead of the milestones, although milestones are worth noting.

If you describe you have been ‘in God’ as Brother Lawrence, a monk, did in the 1600s, you could narrate how close you have come, the efforts, the process. Brother Lawrence, a monk in the 1600s, promised himself he would live day and night, in good and bad times, in God. He spent many years practicing the presence of God in his life. His key to this practice was that he strove to be consciously aware of God’s presence at all times, which seems a perfect synonym of (Christian) mindfulness.

Brother Lawrence at work in his monastic kitchen.

Should your spiritual resume use a different religious or spiritual lexicon, for instance the language of yoga, one could write what and how special forms of meditation have helped you, how they have offered you insights, and which ones. It is not about credentials; it is about describing developments which you should not judge or grade. The tiniest insight can have a profound ripple effect. One doesn’t need huge breakthroughs to see these small steps as valuable.

How can you record or narrate the developments you like to add to your resume? Now here comes the art of creatively thinking. Just start with a few words, draft narratives from there, and then think about whether you like to use words or perhaps stone, yarn, clay, wool, colored pencils, oil paints, or musical notes. Because your spiritual resume is about you, materializing it should feel as doing something as close as possible to you as a person. If you love graphite pencils better than a fountain pen, why not make a drawing? Should you like wool more than grammar, why not weave a tapestry? Whether you opt for an Aboriginal art inspired large canvas or a Beaker bell inspired pot, this is a very personal choice and one could use one’s skills and talents.

There is no need for a spiritual resume to follow a timeline. One can better adopt a more medieval approach that time is circular. Such a medieval concept begs the question how to write a resume that has no beginning or end, neither facts or figures. The best way to write a spiritual essay is not regarding mystical experiences, insights, or meditative breakthroughs as achievements on which other successes build. It is far better to see these ‘achievements’ as gifts being given to you. It is said that if you take one step to God or Allah, God or Allah will take ten to you. Which automatically leads to a spiritual resume as having a tone of gratefulness, and perhaps resembling a gratitude journal.

Another possible form is writing letters. Again there is no need to follow a chronological setup. Write about the most mysterious, insightful, and wonderful experiences followed by the less significant but probably equally important encounters or occurrences.

I had an uncle who for years wrote a letter to his guardian angel, which listed his spiritual progress and experiences. After his demise, his children turned it into a booklet that was distributed among his family and friends‘.

‘My old dairies, that held my deepest perhaps even spiritual thoughts, made me feel ashamed. I had no other vocabulary than a girlish one. I was even scorned by family members after they read a diary entry. I trashed my notes; I came to see them as melodramatic. Around the time I became aware of spirituality, there was only enlightenment or not. Enlightenment was something huge, something for well trained, wise, old men, not for young girls. Thank God, we now have vocabularies of different spiritual traditions for writing about our spiritual developments. And that is because we now have Spirituality shelves in bookshops offering us spiritual lexicon, even modern secular lexicon. But that took decades. I can now write about spiritual experiences but it took a society becoming interested in spirituality and publishers to print spiritual narratives‘.

Still, a spiritual narrative or resume does not have to be written down. One can also become a medieval craftsman making art ‘for God’ not signing the art. This is not a usual thing for us, 21st century people, but perhaps you get my gist. Maybe you prefer a needle and yarn for making a grand sampler that records your spiritual growth. Or compose a piece of music. Whatever medium you use and how is your choice and your choice only. Of course, we easily identify books as spiritual resumes. Think of Teresa of Avila’s written texts on her spiritual journey through life. Or of ‘The Practice of the Presence of God’ by Brother Lawrence. Or visit any proper bookshop and see how many modern people help you by offering their narrative which can be very educational in terms of offering lexicon and tools to discern what spiritual growth is. But what about altar cloths handwoven by anonymous women? Or nameless temple decoration certainly made in full devotion? Perhaps these are spiritual resumes as well.

By now, I have moved far away from the meaning of the word resume or curriculum vitae. In my defense; had I used -for instance- artwork or autobiography, this would have deterred those who aren’t artistic or do not feel like writing a book. Notebook, diary, or a journal? Name your document whatever you may see fit.

Entry to a spiritual diary:

There was this one single moment in which -in my twenties- I overlooked a harbour. A gull passed over me, calling its melancholic cry. The sound of that call seemed to expand in the fast open space of sea and sky. I thought how it would be to be that gull having no home, no ties, just taking this endless open space for granted. And then it happened. I didn’t become that gull, but all the sudden I was in that open space consisting of a seemingly endless blue sea and a cerulean sky. I dissolved and it was so peaceful, not scary at all. I have no idea how long that moment lasted but it never left me. I will at no time forget this moment and perhaps death might feel like this; just dissolving without emotions or attachments.


One can ask for growth and help it happen, but one can not force it. Modern people are very much in the business of managing developments, ‘working on it‘, ‘making it happen‘, but spiritual experiences do not belong to the domain of things that are manageable. We can only invite them and open welcoming doors.

To recall and describe experiences that belong to your spiritual resume, or essay, or poem, or painting, I found a few ideas that might be helpful. Some seem self-explanatory. Clearly this advice comes from me and has helped me which does not automatically apply to you. You might list sailing or visiting ancient monuments as supportive. Do feel invited to comment and add what has been supportive for your spiritual curriculum vitae.

Also, a disclaimer here. To grow your spiritual resume is not a business of stimulating growth, which means no drugs or extreme actions. We have ‘to sit by the grass and let it grow by itself‘ (Zen saying). There is it, sitting by the grass is active; we have to sit by the grass (we have to create favourable conditions). But letting the grass grow by itself is passive. We can open doors and leave them open but we can’t force friends to come in. We invite them in, politely.

  • Meditate or pray. In meditation or prayer we gain deeper insights and are offered spiritual experiences. Nobody plans enlightenment or mystical experiences. They come to us as gifts or accidents. But we can invite gifts by prayer and meditation. The interesting thing with meditation is that there are 1001 courses in which you can learn to meditate, but there is hardly any advice on how to pray. As a child I thought it was sending a wish-list up to the Wise Man above. Should you like to read more about prayer, may I advise reading Thich Nhat Hanh‘s The Energy of Prayer?
  • Listen to religious or spiritual music. I once read a quote by an Indian spiritual lecturer. He said if he had to choose between spoken language or music, he would choose music which is remarkable for a former university and later spiritual lecturer, for somebody practically spending his whole life giving lectures. He said (not a verbatim quote) that ‘From music, spiritually naturally follows’. Bach lovers know this and voice it with a humorous twist: ‘Bach is God and God is Bach’. Music is majorly important, hence listening to Zen-bowls, shamanic drums, Gregorian chants, or other religious-spiritual music.
  • What also helps us to invite mystic experiences or deeper insights is art-making. By art-making I do not mean making a gallery or museum piece. Modest and focused art-making or crafts work is enough: knitting, sketching, woodwork, needle art, working on a religious patterned colouring page. It is not the art that counts, but meditation that shuts down our loquacious mind. Once we have calmed our minds and turned our inner cacophony into a zen-like symphony, there is more space for divine or spiritual insights or wisdom to break through. Grandmothers seem to have known this. They didn’t need to sweat and burn at hot steam yoga classes. They sat themselves near a window for calmly doing an hour of knitting or crochet whilst they went deep into meditation. If you interrupted them, they returned to their busy family life from what seemed a place full of silence and wisdom.
  • Good sleep is another method for becoming wiser. A good night’s sleep and keeping a dream journal offers a possibility to study our subconscious mind through Jungian dream analysis. You do not need a degree for this. You do not even need to buy 10 books. Reading a few is okay to open your mind to the symbolic language of our subconsciousness. Not all dreams should be analyzed; one quickly learns which ones stand out in significance. There are nice methods and nice theories that help us to integrate our subconscious mind into our daily living. Once you have gained some techniques and insights, these stay with you. One will feel more whole being in touch with wisdom that is stored within us. Remember that in ancient and holy books much divine communication comes through dreams.
  • Going into nature. Again, almost self-explanatory, just like art-making, spending time in nature is beneficial to our well being. The sensual enchantments of spending time in nature will quiet your mind. That said, where is ‘nature’? Despite that there is hardly any unspoiled nature left, a park, a rewilding corner in your garden, or a holy well a few kilometers away must do the job. If these places are unfeasible, perhaps listening to a tape with bird sounds will do? Take some nature to you but adapt the definition of nature to your living condition.
  • Diet! Yes. I have experienced it myself firsthand. Three weeks into turning vegan, I had a profound spiritual experience that shocked me out of my socks. There is hardly any world religion not advising on fasting or diet. A rich diet harms the body and inhibits spiritual growth. I read a Yogi saying that ‘Yoga requires a diet’. Yoga exercises without a diet are just physical exercises. You can’t stuff your body with bad food and then hope subtle energies will run through it.
  • Read spiritual books. Start somewhere and see yourself developing through different themes, ‘religions’, and advice. Look for information but check whether the author or source is trustworthy. Theoretical study is important for its special vocabulary, identifying stages of development, and good advice. After giving this much thought, I think there are exceptions; the uneducated shepherd who finds enlightenment by walking the hills or the brainy scholar that neglects his body by spending decades on reading holy books and finds enlightenment. Even so, for most of us a good balance between proper sleep, listening to music, meditation and prayer, a healthy diet, with additional theoretical studies welcomes spiritual development.
Spiritual books by Therese of Lisieux, Gopi Krisha, and Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee are a few of the myriad spiritual books available.

Here is ‘Why One Should Write a Spiritual Resume‘.

Wishing you many wonderful and soul-nurturing hours penning down your spiritual resume. I hope this article has been helpful. Should I receive valuable comments, I might post an additional post consisting of these comments (if preferred anonymized). In other words, feel free to use the contact form.

Paula Kuitenbrouwer

Paula’s art is at Etsy and her portfolio at Instagram.

Paula holds an MA degree in Philosophy and she is the owner of Her pen and pencils are always fighting for her attention nevertheless they are best friends; Paula likes her art to be brainy and her essays to be artistic. Feel free to contact Paula for commissions.