Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sacred Stories

       I've been re-reading Barack Obama's memoir of his childhood and his early days as a community organizer: Dreams from My Father. It is a remarkable book. In a chapter describing community building in inner city Chicago he  writes about  holding a meeting where folks just started talking about their lives, telling  tales of their own childhoods, sharing the challenges they still face every day,and revealing hard  truths about their lives. Obama referred to these stories as "sacred stories". As soon as I read that phrase, one I have used so often,I burst into my usual sappy Ruthie tears and started thinking.  
     The phrase "sacred stories" was referenced frequently in my former life as a Unitarian Universalist. I am , I should mention, not religious at all, but the nice thing about Unitarian Universalist  Fellowships is that you don't really have to believe in anything of a spiritual nature to belong. You do, however, have to believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every individual and you are committed to trying to understand our shared humanity. It is not as easy as it sounds. On Christmas Eve Unitarian Universalists everywhere repeat one line several times :" Each night a child is born is a holy night". I get goose bumps just writing it here."Each Night A Child Is Born Is A Holy Night". All of us are holy, all of us are sacred, and all of our stories are sacred stories.
     I have been a mental health worker most of my adult life. I used to tell people I went into the business because I am inherently nosy and wanted to hear peoples' gossip. This is essentially true. I wanted to hear stories about what makes us real. I wanted to hear stories that transcend our differences, that help us step into someone else's shoes, as the saying goes, and walk that extra mile. I wanted to hear stories of struggle, truths found, victories shared, pain given into, pain over come. I need these stories to fuel my own exploration of my own humanity. I read them in books, I listen for them on street corners and I elicit them from my clients and from the people in my life. I am consistently  delighted, amused, horrified, scared, but mostly inspired when someone tells me the truth of  his or her life. These stories are as important to me as any belief in a supreme being could ever be. 
         A woman who I am proud to call my niece, has written such a story, and you can find it here  (check out the entry for October 18, 2008). It's hard, it's gut wrenching and it is ultimately triumphant. Bring tissues. 
   Sacred stories. Those revelatory stories that bring us together. That important and courageous sharing. I have heard so many over the years and I even have a couple of my own. I think that I have found the focus of this blog. More to come. 
   

5 comments:

Kathy said...

very cool. :) (see, I read here!) I like the idea of sacred stories. hmmmmmmmm

Cristin said...

This was the best post ever. And not because you linked to me... I just may have to link right back to you....

only a movie said...

Ruth - gorgeous post. Gorgeous writing. I can't wait to read more.

Come on up and visit us sometime!

(hi Kathy - she's my bud, Ruthie).

StarbuckBitch said...

you said it sister! Love it! Love you!

crone51 said...

Thank you so much! I am flabbergasted! Which I think means my gast is flabbered. I have no idea where my gast is but I assure you it's very flabbered right now.

Ok, it's early, haven't had enough coffee yet...

But seriously folks, thank you . You are all wonderful ( and not just because you said nice things about me..)