I was recently challenged to consider the possibility that blogging is nothing more than a self-indulgent waste of time.

There are already far too many words out there. Why would anyone bother adding to the verbiage crashing around in cyberspace? Is it not more important to close your laptop and get out there and DO something that will actually benefit the world? Why waste your time with all these ideas that simply pamper to people who want to fritter away their lives amusing themselves playing little intellectual head games?

They are good questions.

What do I think I am doing typing away here endlessly on this little keyboard?

There are at least four things I think blogging is at its best:

1. Blogging is spiritual practice.

Blogging trains me in paying attention to my life. I look more carefully at the world because I am always on the lookout for something that feels as if it might generate the energy for a post.

It is so easy to go through life without noticing. When I blog, I notice things I might otherwise allow to pass by in a blur. Paying attention is profound spiritual practice. I honour life when I pay attention. I notice depth and connection when I look carefully at the world and my life in the world. Blogging is a personally enriching practice in my life.

2. Blogging is conversation.

Our world is starved for places where people can speak to one another with respect and openness about profound and important issues. When I blog I hope to stimulate questions rather than demand answers.

No doubt I often tip over into the polemics that are the perennial peril of the preacher. But, when I am doing what I intend here, I am opening doors and windows, rather than slamming them shut.

I have been tremendously gratified at some of the conversation that has occurred in the comments section of this blog. It feels to me that there have been moments when readers, speaking to one another, have been traversing new and unexplored territory in their inner lives. These are moments that make blogging seem worthwhile.

3. Blogging is connection.

Conversations take place on blogs that would be impossible without this technology. Even in the little blog world occupied by www.inaspaciousplace.wordpress.com , encounters have taken place across the continent and around the world.

Some people might argue that these contacts have no meaning, that they are too remote to be really significant. But, it seems to me that any connection that creates even the slightest connection between people from different backgrounds who approach the world with a variety of perspectives is a worthwhile endeavour.

As the distance between people of different cultures shrinks, we are increasingly caused to interact with people whose view of the world is profoundly different from any we might encounter in our own little sheltered enclave of the human community. Anything that causes us to wrestle with the reality of the way other people see the world is a small step towards understanding and cooperation in a world where such virtues are often in short supply.

4. Blogging is writing.

This last point no doubt seems obvious and pointless. But it is important to me.

It is a common misperception that writers are people who publish. Getting published does not make a person a writer. Writers are people who write. When I blog I write. When I do not blog, I write less. This may seem like a good thing to some people; but I miss the act of writing when I stop.

Although writing is hard work, I enjoy the process of putting words into my computer. I like revising and editing my work. I feel thrilled occasionally when I see a phrase, or maybe even a whole sentence, appear on the screen that strikes me as expressing beautifully some thought that has been lurking unnoticed in the hidden recesses of my brain.

For me, blogging is a release of creative energy. No exercise of creativity can ever be a waste of time.

If a blog serves as spiritual practice, facilitates conversation and connection, and is a genuine creative expression, perhaps it is a worthwhile endeavour for those early morning hours spent on my laptop.