Telling our Stories to each other

23DawnSeptemberRedSunI 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?

28FoggyDawn

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~ by Kimberly Mason on October 6, 2009.

7 Responses to “Telling our Stories to each other”

  1. I write this with a very large lump in my throat. I am most thankful to God that my story is not my identity. It is with God’s grace that I continue to grow and unfold and move to the next place in my journey. I draw comfort and peace knowing that I am Christ’s own regardless (and in spite of) my story.

  2. I’m really glad that my biography isn’t my identity! I definitely feel that in so many cases I’ve fallen short of what I think God wants for me…

  3. […] On my prayer blog this morning I talked about how we share our stories with each other, our disappointments, our failures. I quoted John O’Donahue, author of Anam Cara: “Your identity is not equivalent to your biography.” […]

  4. Wow Kim. What a powerful post. I adore your words…who I am is not who I was. And who I am is not who I will be….wow. I’ve downloaded Anam Cara to my Kindle and look forward to reading more. I try so hard to care for me, and to stay mindful, and thanks to visiting beautiful places such as yours, I am more mindful today. Blessings to you sister friend.

  5. There is no “who” of my inner sanctuary, exactly, which is not to say that there aren’t people there who offer sustenance and sanctuary. The John O’Donahue quote reminds me of a phrase that I hold dear, uttered by a therapist of long ago: experience is not the same as truth.

    I think we tend to be so mindful of how our wounds have affected us that we forget that there are parts of us that aren’t wounded. Oh, how different life could be if we lived from those places, rather than allowed the scars of old to be stumbling blocks to the joy of the day.

    As for the what of my inner sanctuary, I think it is beauty. And puppies.

    PS–isn’t facebook great?

  6. hmm. lots to think about in this blog and the following comments.

    I too love stories, and have learned that I learn and change the most within the context of telling my story and llistening to others. I go to weekly Alanon meetings, and thru listening and opening up to others I change. It wasn’t all at once, but bit by bit I have grown.

    I no longer think that my past or biography defines me, but boy I did there for awhile. There was no bigger victim than me. and yet in the gentle telling of peoples lives, I crawled out of my subterranium rut looked around and chose differently. Now when I am on the pity pot it doesn’t last weeks or months- I am brought back to awareness of choice.

    I love Viktor Frank’s book Man’s Search for Meaning. (As well as all of Ann Lamotts writings) If Viktor, as a jewish doctor in concentration camps could chose his attitude and not let the nazis define him anything is possible. I take his book out of the library and read it every few years to rejoice in our power of choice.

    I used to be overwelmed by my abyss. Paralyzed by it really. I didn’t have the skills or knowledge to deal with it. Now I choose how I will deal with any abyss be it the big one or a default line.

    Loved “the Shack” and that idea of God. Now every morning after reading my spiritual books I pray and then imagine myself sitting on a deck overlooking a beautiful lake in the company of God and Jesus and rocking on rocking chairs. We just sit together holding hands and sometimes I put my head on one of their shoulders. Sometimes it feels like we just rock and smile.

    But I do so love to forget all about anything and everything by spending an hour in front of the Housewives of atlanta, or NYC!

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