Some years ago, I was planning to offer a personal storytelling course at my church, which I was calling “Your Sacred Story.” I shared this idea with a friend who was a great storyteller, thinking she’d be right on board. I was surprised when she said, “Oh no. I couldn’t join that class.” When I asked her why, she said, “Well, my story’s not sacred.”
Does her response resonate with you? Maybe you like to share stories from your life with others, but you would never call those stories “sacred.'' Or maybe you don’t even think of yourself as having stories worthy of telling?
The word “sacred” brings up feelings of inadequacy for most people. We’ve been taught to distinguish between the sacred and the profane–and the merely mundane. The word “sacred” applies to holy people, saints, heroes, those who have accomplished something extraordinary–not us. Maybe you imagine the only sacred stories are like the icon featured below. Maybe you think your story is too ordinary or boring to be told at all.
[Icon: Theotokos of Tenderness]
Possibly it’s because I’m the daughter of an actual Saint (true story: “Saint” is my mother’s maiden name), but I’ve never thought the word “sacred” only applied to extraordinary people. While some Christian traditions have rigorous processes for individuals to be officially named capital-S Saints, the early church applied that word to anyone who chose to follow Jesus. I had a seminary professor who tried to remind us of this by always greeting our class, saying, “Good morning, saints!”
As I see it today, that word “sacred” certainly signifies something worthy of respect and reverence, but I believe it applies to every person and life form on Earth. And I use the word “saint” to describe those people in my life who have demonstrated to me what a good, gracious, and generous life looks like. Some of those people publicly follow Jesus; some don't.
You have a story because you are a living human being with life experiences; your story is sacred, not by virtue of some extraordinary holiness, but because your story expresses your soul’s unique existence and expression of life on Earth. You have a sacred story, and so does everyone else.
Stories are the language of human experience, the way human beings best speak to each other soul to soul. From a simple dinner table sharing of daily anecdotes to a formal eulogy expressing your loved one’s life legacy, personal story-sharing helps us learn to recognize the sacredness of all life.
Sharing our stories is reconnects us with the meaning of life beyond our individual experience. Your story may resonate with my story, or it may open me to a world far different from mine. Either way, our perspectives become richer, more nuanced, and more available to possibilities beyond our individual experience.
On October 28, 4:30-6:00 PM Pacific Time, you are invited to join me for a FREE online Resilient Spirit Story Circle. In preparation for Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls, a triad of celebrations in Christian-influenced cultures, the theme for our gathering is “Favorite Saints.” It’s a time to remember not only the capital-S saints who have influenced your life, but also the ordinary saints who have blessed your life with their unique wisdom.
[Icon: El Pan de Vida, created in honor of one of my favorite saints, my Guatemalan host mother]
Resilient Spirit Story Circles are a safe and friendly space to discover the sacred stories you didn’t know you had, to practice courage by sharing them, and to enjoy the soul connections and new inspiration which are generated as you listen to others’ stories
Click HERE if you’d like to sign up.
And if you'd like to discover and share your stories in a more private setting, click HERE to get on my calendar for a FREE Clarity Chat to explore how we might be able to work together in spiritual direction or coaching--which is, after all, a story-exploration process! :)