I want to thank you all for participating in our Summer Series, The 5W’s of God (and an H). It was an enlightening journey for me, and apparently for many of you who have written me with affirmations as well as your deeper curiosity. We are so blessed with this amazing community of spiritual pilgrims, refugees, and celebrants where we can explore faith openly and experience active discipleship in community. There is truly no other church like FUMCFW and no other community like the nine:thirty-nine | eleven:eleven celebration!
This next week I will be away exploring spirituality, writing, and action at a Conference in New Mexico with Image Journal. It is a widely ecumenical and diverse community much like our own, working with authors, artists, journalists, and activists from around the U.S. and beyond. I look forward to sharing insights with you in the future.
Meanwhile, I am excited, and grateful, to have Charme Robarts in the nine:thirty-nine and eleven:eleven celebrations this Sunday. We are so fortunate to have Charme on our staff, with her gifts of compassion and talent with the spoken word, and I know you will find being with her inspiring! You can get a taste of her topic below.
Have an inspiring, and as cool as possible, week! See you soon.
Knowing Each Other’s Stories
I love Billy Joel’s famous song “Piano Man.” OK, yes, it betrays that I am an aging hippie. But also the music is great and a lot of people find it a great sing-along, judging from the many times in Joel’s concerts when the whole arena loudly joins in. Great stuff. But what about those lyrics — all these people at the bar with their sad stories “sharing a drink called loneliness, but it’s better than drinking alone”?
What I really like about the lyrics is not so much the reality of the characters and their sadness, but that the narrator/songwriter of this little barroom scene knew the stories of the people around him, and now we know them too.
Is there anything better than feeling like someone gets us? We can help close that gap that hangs open between us by listening to each other’s stories.
I heard a leader tell about realizing that things weren’t going too well in his organization. The employees seemed to lack enthusiasm and productivity was low. He decided to call everyone together for a meeting. But the problems in the organization were not the agenda for the meeting. He wanted to open the door for people to tell a little about themselves.
He led the way sharing a story about something that had happened in his life that caused a lot of sadness. When he finished he looked at the group and asked if anyone was willing to share.
The first person who spoke told about being on a boating trip with his fiance. The water became rough and she was tossed overboard. He tried fiercely to save her but she drowned.
The leader of the group reflected on that meeting and the stories that came out. He observed how he began to see all those people in a whole different way and how he felt that bonds were created. He went on to say that he recognized that hearing another person’s story made him a better person, more compassionate, less self-absorbed.
Not all the stories we hear from each other are sad. Entering into each other’s lives is like going to the school of life. We learn from others how to handle social situations, how to see things from another perspective, how to manage and cope with stress.
And then there is all the fun of sharing silly stories, happy stories, love stories.
Sharing our stories is the stuff of life. We see the divine in each person when we lean in and listen.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday!