Telling our stories is one of the most sacred things we do. I am reminded of that as I enjoy my church’s annual women’s retreat on St. Simon’s Island. Now understand this: being on an island means sun and breezes, ocean waves, white sand and palm trees. So the physical environment of this retreat is very conducive to re-creating. On top of that, our sessions have focused our thoughts on knowing ourselves and finding the peace that comes from mindfulness and balance.
But at lunch today with three of the women, I rediscovered the power of our stories as we each told about vivid snippets of our lives and histories. One person commented that we might never have known these things about each other by just greeting one another in church. She was so right! The retreat gave us the gift of safe space in which to tell our stories.
All four of us delighted in the stories the others told. Each of us grew in our own spirituality as we told one another things about our faith. We shared our dreams. One shared her 15-year plan. Another shared her hopes for the year ahead. Two of us shared parts of life past, as the other two celebrated us.
We shared some pain, too, and some loss. We shared times of disappointment and times of plain old survival. We shared stories that brought laughter to the lunch table. We shared communion, in a way, when we created community — a safe community for sharing some of the experiences that brought such meaning to our lives.
We spoke and we listened. We told our stories, each voice around the table willing to be vulnerable enough to share their lives. There was power in the telling. And then there was another kind of power in the listening.
Each of us — just the four of us — were enriched, emboldened, supported and celebrated in the brief lunch activity of hearing one another’s story.
For today at least, four strangers became friends — all because of the stories.
8 thoughts on “All Because of the Stories”
Thank you for this. I believe as well that simply knowing that everyone has those stories because some people have shared them with us changes how we look at all the world.
Yes. It absolutely does affect the way we view the world.
I love this! The act of sharing stories, ourselves and hearing others is so affirming. Thank you for telling us about this experience!
Thank you, Beth. I’m so glad you went to the retreat. And I’m glad I went. I almost didn’t.
Thank you for writing while on retreat! Four women together sharing a meal was powerful. Four women sharing a suite was sweet tonic. Two women deciding together to go on retreat led to hidden treasure. One woman is enriched in the continuous waves and ripples from the weekend.
Beautiful words, my friend.