Creativity As A Spiritual Response

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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?  

Creativity As A Spiritual Response

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July = Stories

Welcome to the month of July.

In the United States,  July is most often a month in which there are vacations, the weather is generally warm, if not hot, and there are gatherings, small and large ones around tables of food, music and even campfires.  It is a time to tell stories.  However, it would be an overstatement to say that all people in the United States have had, or will have, experiences of tables of food, music and campfires.  However, each of us has a story.

I imagine that for readers in the Southern Hemisphere who may be encountering wintry weather rather than summer heat.  The winter may also be a time to tell stories.  What stories will you tell?

  • What are stories?
  • Why are they important?
  • What stories do you tell?
  • What stories do you carry?
  • What stories were you told as a child?  Who told them?
  • What stories have you had to piece together from fragments of family history?
  • Where are you in the circle of listeners?
  • Where are you in the circle of story tellers?

After the month of June and its focus upon keeping a journal, we now will spend an entire month of looking at stories.  Please use your journal to record any stories that emerge as you reflect on this topic.  I also welcome your comments to any of these posts.

I personally believe that stories are at the core of our expressions of creativity in any form, as well as our spirituality.  They are also at the core of who we are individually as well as culturally.

I also believe that our stories are endangered, and therefore precious. Many of us don’t tell our own stories, and don’t expect to do so.  And, we don’t know well the stories of others.

It is true that I do not know your stories, but I trust that you have them, many of them.  While I can’t hear them all, I can affirm the importance of story, of your story and encourage you to find others who will listen, for you to collect the stories of your family and culture and share them, and for you to write them down.

Let’s explore this important topic together.

Welcome to the circle!