What Are Your Sacred Stories?

Len Delony1It’s been over a month since I last wrote here about “Sacred Stories and the Efficiency of the Holy Spirit.”

I’ve continued to follow that theme throughout this month as I’ve heard many sacred stories (especially in my recent part-time work as a hospice chaplain). When we and our loved ones become aware of our vulnerability and even the possibility of death, something shifts (if we are really present and paying attention). In the midst of our shared vulnerability, if we nurture a space that is open and trusting (i.e., truly honest and faithful), our vision and ability to listen can become much clearer. What is deeply meaningful and life-giving comes more into focus. And our awareness that “this time and place . . . right here, right now, is Holy Ground” awakens deep in our souls.

In addition to times when loved ones are approaching the end of their lives (a time that especially can be nurtured with compassion as in hospice care), if loved ones begin to struggle with dementia, that also is a ripe time to hear and nurture sacred stories. Recently we have had some wonderful meetings and developed plans for our church to have monthly gatherings with help about how to navigate the often difficult waters of dementia. How do you think we, as a church, can become better at “hearing and telling sacred stories of healing” before they are lost in a fog? When sacred stories are heard and honored, they become a gift that is life-giving across the generations.

This week many of our clergy and lay leaders attended our United Methodist Annual Conference (this year in Mansfield). For a few hours every day we had Professor Kevin Watson from Candler School of Theology (at Emory in Atlanta) speak to us about the roots of the Methodist Movement that has become the United Methodist Church. At the heart of the awakening in the 1700s and the catalyst for overflowing passion and purposeful ministry, were intentional small groups of 7 – 12 people who met regularly to ask “How is it with your soul?” and give ample time to listen deeply together. And Professor Watson suggests that we all can do a better job at intentionally listening to sacred stories of others and allowing our souls to be cared for in such small groups. With all the struggles around the world, isn’t it time for us all to become more intentional about being rooted and grounded in God’s love?

Of course, we can start wherever we are. Are you being called to become more intentional about hearing sacred stories all around you . . . wherever two or three are gathered in love? That is the place to begin . . . and especially with those who are vulnerable.

If you are interested in hearing sacred stories within yourself and in those around you, I recommend you take some time to listen to and reflect on this TED Talk with Brené Brown (a “Researcher-Storyteller”) as she speaks on “The Power of Vulnerability.”

Grace and peace be with you on your journey throughout the summer,

Len

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