July = Story
The topic of story is important to me for at least three major reasons:
1. I work part-time in a Memory Care setting at a retirement facility. The residents are mostly in middle to late-stage dementia. They have moved beyond repetitive story telling to living mostly in the present. In my work as an Activity Coordinator, I listen for story and attempt to provide enough engaging activities that story emerges. I listen, make inquiries, and listen again as the person expresses to the best of their ability something that happened possibly many years ago. I inquire of their family members and staff to find out what they know, so I can see a fuller picture of the person now, and who they have been. I believe that story is important through all of our lives.
2. I did not grow up with stories so my interest is part of an experience of loss of what having stories might have meant. I am the third child, the youngest. I thought for many years that the reason I was not told stories was because the stories had been told previously, perhaps to my siblings. Later, I discovered that they were not told stories either. As we grew up away from other family, there was no story-teller to fill in the blanks of the lives of our parents, or early memories of ourselves. My parents had many gifts, but they were not story-tellers. And, I did not ask. I have found that my experience is not unusual.
3. I am a spiritual director or spiritual coach. At my heart, I am not a story-teller, although I am working on that. Rather, I am a story listener. While, a therapist may listen to stories of individuals and families, I in my role of a spiritual coach also listen. The stories that I listen to may come from both individuals, and small groups. These particular stories reflect their relationship to the Divine as these people understand that relationship to be, or perhaps long for it to be. My vocation is to listen to stories that can be tentative and to stories that change. These stories can also be deep, emotional, questioning, and trusting as part of a dynamic relationship. My role is to not get in the way of the person’s relationship with the Divine, but rather to understand the Divine as being with both of us, in our present moment. It all begins with story.
My purpose in sharing this is to invite your own reflection on story. If stories are important to you, why are they important?