Telling our Stories to each other
I love Story. I use Story to connect. It’s that Anne Lamott “Me too!” moment that allows me to remember that the divine in me coexists with the human and that it’s okay to be human, imperfect and broken. When I am allowed to see another’s brokenness, then my own broken heart is able to reach out in concert with—in support of and with the support of—that other broken heart and grab hold of the grace of God.
To live within another’s Story—even for just that moment—is the way I work to find compassion for myself and for the world.
I have a driving need for Story. Unfortunately that driving need also manifests itself in my addiction to reality television. The drama of Project Runway, the fashionably dysfunctional Rachel Zoe Project, pathetically glittering Real Housewives of Atlanta (or New York or Orange County), the deliciously competitive Top Chefs—I must confess, I love them all! But reality television is a very UNreal version of our human story and does not truly nourish me. Like a bag of potato chips, they seem filling, but there is no real nutrition. I need real Story, real nourishment.
I have two reasons why Story is in the forefront of my mind today: one, Reverend Songbird over at the Reflectionary blog has opened up a discussion on the benefits and downfalls of telling your own Story from the pulpit; and two, I spent most of yesterday telling my Story to a dear friend, an Anam Cara, who has returned after more than ten years away. (Hoorah for Facebook!)
My dear Anam Cara, I have missed you. We have been talking about Our Stories and while Our Story is important, I am reminded of something John O’Donahue (author of Anam Cara) said in an interview with Krista Tippett of Speaking of Faith:
“Your identity is not equivalent to your biography.
“There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there is still a sureness in you, where there is a seamlessness in you and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love [and friendship] is now and again to visit that Inner Sanctuary.”
The fact that my biography is not my identity gives me great comfort, for My Story is not always filled with happy romps through sunny fields (as my photography might suggest). But, (and herein lies my comfort) when I tell My Story of poor choices and unloving, unkind and selfish years of sub-existence, it is only a part my story. It is NOT my identity.
Who I am is not who I was. And who I am is not who I will be.
And that, my friends, is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God. (Ha! If you are an Episcopalian, you followed the first sentence automatically with the second, yes?)
And now I would like to ask all my friends: who or what is your Inner Sanctuary? How are you caring for that Inner Sanctuary? Do you remember the Abyss of Need we talked about a couple of weeks ago? Are you tending to or are you being absorbed into the Abyss? Do you allow Distractions to keep you from caring for yourself and your Inner Sanctuary or from recognizing your Abyss of Need?