Thursday, December 19, 2013

Stories Treasured

Have you noticed that sometimes festive mealtimes like Christmas, Thanksgiving and birthdays can be a springboard for communal storytelling?  These real life revelations can include endless examples of wonderful human experiences, told in the safe womb of post-meal-contentment.  This is especially true if told by those who have gradually nurtured us into freedom so we could become who we really are.  Sometimes the clarity of this shared truthfulness gives birth to laughter, compassionate tears or even shocking never-before-uttered secrets.

Before my father died we did a taped oral history with him.  He shared details about his family, things in life that delighted him and things that made him sad.  As we ended, my oldest brother asked him, “Dad, if you had to choose one happiest time, what would it be?”  I thought he might refer to the two times the Cold Spring Springers baseball team won state championships under his management.  Or maybe the time he was inducted into the St. Cloud Civic Center Hall of fame for his work in establishing rural baseball teams during his 16 years as manager.  But instead, he immediately replied, “That’s easy.  Each time one of you was born and everything was OK, it was the happiest day of my life.”  Gratefully, his grandchildren may someday listen to his response and have a glimpse of what their grandfather valued most in life.

May these festive days be filled with precious stories, told and treasured. We might even be the ones who create times for listening to others and adding our own stories.  May each of us recognize that NOW is the perfect time to give sacred space/time to listening to wise story tellers, young and old.  As Rachel Naomi Remen reminds us, “Our listening creates a sanctuary for the homeless parts within another person.”  I guess, in that sense, as listeners, we are all potential “homemakers.”

Mary Rachel Kuebelbeck, OSB

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