Can I tell you a story?

As we sit around the table at Limina, I love it when a guest asks if they can tell as story. As human beings, we come to learn about ourselves, our loved ones, our world, and the divine through stories. Family stories, stories from history, and stories in sacred writings shape us from the time we first hear them. And as we age, we continue to be formed by the stories we hear and tell that surround us all the time. Whether we are sitting around the kitchen table or campfire, taking a walk or long drive, watching TV, on social media, over the phone, or through pictures, the stories of lives flow all around us.

 

 

Stories not only reveal what has happened in our lives, but they can shape who we become. I recently listened to an audiobook with a character who had been told as a child that he was physically weak. This story of weakness and fragility was told so often that a minor childhood injury created a lifelong impairment – after Ronnie turned his ankle, he internalized the story of disability to the point that he developed a limp that persisted into adulthood.

In contrast, when Albert Einstein was in elementary school, he could not yet read. His teacher sent a note home, and Albert had to give it to his mother, Pauline, to read it to him. Looking at her son with tears in her eyes, she told young Albert that the note said that he was so smart that the teacher had nothing to teach him, and that he was going to change the world. Pauline undertook a time of homeschooling that set Einstein on his path where he indeed changed the world. Later in life, Einstein found the note that actually read, “Albert is too dumb to learn anything and will never amount to anything in life.” Thank God for Pauline Einstein telling her son a different story!

 

 

When was the last time that you had the chance to tell someone a story from your life? When I say “tell the story” I don’t mean a well-honed and polished tale. I simply mean sharing from your lived experience something that touched you enough to stick in your mind and heart. If it’s been a while, consider asking a friend over for a cup of coffee or tea, or take a walk with a loved one.  If you want to share a story that is especially raw and vulnerable, you may consider talking with a spiritual director or a therapist.

If you need a little prompt to get you talking, try one of these:

  • When was a time in your life that you felt most alive? Who were you with? Where were you? What were you doing?
  • When was the last time you were moved to tears (of joy, anger, relief, worry, allergies, grief)?
  • Who is a meaningful animal in your life, domesticated or wild? How did you meet them? How did you connect?

As you share your stories, may you feel alive with the wonder of words to weave meaning through the telling. And may you notice the presence of the angels and divine throughout the stories, as a source of creativity, redemption of suffering, and inspiration. We are never alone, a you are loved.

Abundant blessings to you,

Libby