A Story to Tell
Terry McDermid of Joplin, MO, USA
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:4-7
For as long as I can remember, I’ve told stories. My mom used to say that I was telling stories almost before I could talk. She could tell from my babbling that something was happening in my mind. But even more than telling stories, I like collecting stories from people. Stories of how they met their spouses, where they lived or traveled, what they did as a career, and how they spent their days.
Recently, I’ve been leading writing groups at several retirement homes. The purpose is to help the residents write their life stories. At first, they don’t think they have anything to share. After all, they think they’re too old. Or their lives have been ordinary. Who wants to hear about them?
The first day, it takes time to draw them out. A question about a holiday or their first house or their first car will get someone talking. As soon as one shares a memory, another one speaks up. That leads to more ideas, and soon each one is bringing an idea to life. Sometimes not much writing takes place except in my notebook as I jot down notes for later. Instead, the reminder that they are each important, that they each have a “story to tell,” becomes the focus for the day. By the end of group time, they’re sitting up straighter, smiling and laughing from stories they’ve heard, or wiping away tears from a poignant tale.
The Enduring Principle Worth of All Persons comes to mind most often when I’m listening to women and men share their memories and stories. No matter their age or what they’re doing, they want to be heard. Each one wants to be recognized as a person of worth. For me, that is the core of the message Jesus shared when he came to the world. Not for some people but for all people. Listening to their stories each month is one way I can share the love of God and Jesus. Plus, I have the added joy of gaining from them.
God bless the spaces between us.
Tears of Compassion
Offer a silent prayer for the gift of God’s compassion. Cup your hands and ask God to make you aware of the suffering that causes the Earth and its inhabitants to groan and weep. Be open to faces or places, sounds or voices, feelings of connection with those who suffer. Imagine catching the tears of those you see and holding them in your hands. Listen for prayer images or words God may give you. Discern any active responses of ministry or healing you sense invited to complete for those who weep.
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.