“As a bird must sing, it’s your human nature to tell your story,” says Tristine Rainer, author of Your Life as Story: Discovering the “New Autobiography” and Writing Memoir as Literature. But telling our own story is more than a pleasant pastime to amuse ourselves and others. Telling our story, whether spoken or written, to another or only to ourself, opens doors that otherwise could remain closed.
“Telling your story is a way to contemplate your life’s path and decode its wisdom,” says Rainer. “It teaches you how to express what you have experienced, what you feel, what you remember, what you understand, who you are, what you believe.”
Telling our story allows us to see our lives as the spiritual journeys they are. Indeed, stories have power because they are the lens through which we may see how the sacred enters into our lives.
Telling our story is a way to engage in “a conversation between oneself and a great mystery,” says Elizabeth Jarrett Andrew, author of Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art & Practice of Spiritual Memoir. It is a way to place the narrative of our lives in relationship to something greater than ourselves. It places our lives in the broader, sacred context in which, to reference Scripture, we all live, move and have our being (Acts 17:28). By letting our memories speak their mysteries, we allow the great Mystery of all life to breathe meaning into our stories, and hence our lives.
Telling our story can lift us up out of the boxes that we create for ourselves. Telling our story can free us to travel to new heights, to where we may find our most important truth, to where we may find God.
SOURCES AND RESOURCES
Andrew, Elizabeth Jarrett. Writing the Sacred Journey: The Art & Practice of Spiritual Memoir. Skinner House Books: 2005.
Phifer, Nan Merrick. Memoirs of the Soul: A Writing Guide. Ingot Press: 2002.
Rainer, Tristine. Your Life as Story: Discovering the “New Autobiography” and Writing Memoir as Literature. Tarcher/Putnam: 1998.