Lost and Found

Pacific, Storm, January, 2017 (meb)

3A7D9350-A86B-47E8-9C88-03FE96170983Sometimes, the path is not clear.  What will I do with my one “wild and precious life?”  I continue to ask, even this late in the journey.  The world is mine; I have my whole life of experience behind me.  Much that preoccupied me in earlier years will not arise again (thank God!).  And still, there is this yearning.

If I could do anything, what would it be?  These are the wonderings, the meanderings of a person of privilege in this world, to be sure.  Should I write?  Of course.  Should I travel?  Yes, as long as I can, and am able.  As long as I have other places to explore.  Should I sing?  Oh, yes!

How can I serve?  That has been a question I have held within myself since I was young, and that question alone has been a key that has opened a world to me, a key that broadened my world by measures I could not have imagined.  When I set out to “serve,” to help human-kind (at the time, I thought my service would “make a difference;” now, I think not), I was willing to let go of other things to do so.  Instead, I have discovered that the desire to serve, that alone,  opened the door to another life for me.

As I’ve grown older, I know that the value of service is not a value held by everyone.  I suppose for me, it has been a motivating force.  I thought it was a value of my generation; apparently not.  To serve is a value to some.

Another key to the opening of my life has been something that came with growing up in my family.  Although neither of my parents was “educated,” – my mother received her GED when I was in college, my father went through the 8th grade – both of my parents had a bright and vivid interest in the world.  Where did that come from?  I see now that having that interest in the world has been a shining star that has lit my path.  I see that others lack this quality – they will not “go beyond his father’s saying, and he likes having thought of it so well, he says again:  ‘Good fences make good neighbors (Robert Frost, “Birches”).”

I have an interest in the world that has allowed me to see that others can live differently than me, and that is good, not something that is suspect.  I have an interest in the world that has softened the edges of what I hold as right or good or holy.  My interest in the world has been a doorway – a wide, broad doorway with edges that can expand – has given me curiosity about the lives of others, about the world.  My curiosity has allowed me to question my own values and to see that they are mine, my own.  Others have their own; I may not understand, but it is good.

When my brother Ronn first married, I was still in my teens.  One day he said to me, casually, “do you know that other families are not interested in the world, like ours is?” I shook my head.  I had not thought of such a thing, and even more, I could not imagine it.  Like a child who observes the home of another family for the first time, seeing that things are different here, his question opened my world, even more.

For all of these things, I am grateful.  I am grateful for the call to service.  That call has been a well-appointed entrance into a larger world, for me.  I am grateful for the gift of interest, a simple quality, but a quality that carries within it a curiosity, about people, about life.  That curiosity also carries within it a curiosity about self, and that deeper, inside journey is itself a treasure.

“And God saw that it was good.”  – Genesis, The Bible



“All stories are true.” – Ibo proverb



about-storytellers“All stories are true.”

There is great power in stories. This is basic to the human experience. When we think of stories being told, the image of ancient peoples sitting in a circle around a fire comes to mind.  Perhaps the gift of one person in the ancient community was the gift of story-telling, and so they were designated to tell the story of the community. The story brought the people together, and the telling of the story brought the people together with their ancestors, their history, and to their unconscious connections to past, present, and even future.

We still tell stories. Something in us wants to tell stories, and so we do. How often have we told one another where we were and how we heard about the events of 9/11, when the story of our nation in this post-modern era was forever changed?  Why do we turn on the evening news, except to hear the story of the day, a story to which we are connected, like it or not?

What story of your own do you tell, again and again? What is the story of your life you would tell at this moment, at this time?

There is great power in stories. To heal from trauma, we must tell someone our story. Sometimes the details of the story change, but the story must be told, over and over and over again, to release the trauma. It is our need to tell the story. It is also our need to find someone who is safe to be the recipient of the story.  When we are grieving, we need to tell the story of our grief, of our loss, of our troubles.

We need to speak our story to someone, to a community, that is safe.

Who is safe? Well, I can say who is not safe. Someone who interrupts to insert their own opinions or their own story, is not safe. Someone who wants to give advice is not safe. Someone who wants to change our story for reasons of their own is not safe. Someone who has an interest in keeping us trapped in our story is not safe.  Sometimes our closest friends are not safe.  Maybe we need to find others to listen, other friends, who are safe.

Certainly, someone who does not honor the importance and the privilege of hearing our story is not safe.  Do not share your story with someone who cannot be trusted to keep the story safe, safe from telling others, safe from gossiping about your story.  You are the keeper of your story, and as the keeper, it is your responsibility to care for your story, as you would a child, keeping the story safe from those who will abuse the story.  You are responsible for your story.

There is great power in stories, and stories must be told. Our healing is in the telling.

Sometimes, stories need to be told again and again until their true kernel is discovered, through the telling of the story. Sometimes, we tell the story over and over again, as if we are turning a beautiful, rough rock in our hands, looking at it from many angles. We feel it, we sense it, we see it, we run our fingers over it. And so it is with the telling and the re-telling of our stories.

“All stories are true.” The details of a story are not often true. We see this in ancient scriptures, when sometimes the same story is told in many versions, from chapter to chapter, book to book. The details change. But the power of the story remains.

How often have you heard someone you love tell a story, and as you listen, you realize that the story – which you have certainly heard many times before! – is being told for a certain effect: to impress, to remember, to grieve, to instill with a particular meaning. And so you have witnessed, you have known that the details are not always true, but the story remains, the story is true.

What is your story? Who will you honor by telling your story? Choose carefully! Choose someone who is safe to hear your story! Choose someone who will honor your story – honor you – by listening, quietly, with great presence, with respect. Choose someone who will not degrade your story by telling it to others as gossip, as if the story was not rich and important. Your story – whatever it is! – is your richest gift to the world.

When you tell your story, you begin to see yourself in new ways. When you tell your story, you see the empty places, the things that are missing. You see the characters in the story, and you see who has had power in your story. As time goes on, and as you tell the story again and again, you begin to see the shifting of the story.

Perhaps you need to become the hero of your own story, because you are the hero of your life. Life is difficult, for all people. When you tell your story, you begin to look at it differently. Maybe you see the parts that are missing, the parts you are not telling, that you are ashamed to tell, that you have been told are not worthy to tell. This is not true.

And when you tell your story, over and over and over again, sometimes you may find that you are tiring of your own story! Some things that were true are no longer true, and will never be true for you again. You have grown. Maybe you’ve outgrown the story you have been telling. It is time to tell another story.

“All stories are true.”