Story

It is April 1st 2020 and I am immediately asking myself, “Why begin a blog?” I suppose because my experience of the last twenty years is that I, like all of us, have something of worth to say and that what I share – whether people agree or not – gets discussion going. If this engagement builds a better world for all then it is gift. I suppose my hope for this blog is that it invites myself and those who read it to engage more deeply in story. I am a big fan of story. Over many years of working with individuals and groups I have come to a space and time in my life where I often find myself saying, “When in doubt – share story!” So often, hundreds of times, I have found myself in difficult situations or confused as to what to do and in those times, when I have asked the other to share something of their story or I have focussed on the story they are sharing and them as story teller – magic has happened. There is an energy shift when we share story. Story just is. It is neither right nor wrong, better or best – it just is. Story is authentic. Story is my heart expressing itself. When I get in touch with the sacred story within myself and I share it with another I am creating a sacred space – holy ground. When the other does the same and feels safe to do the same – then one is often called to ‘take off our shoes’ for the ground upon which we walk is holy.

The sharing of story and the listening to story requires that I come as a guest both to the story and to the story teller. The guest comes gently, the guest comes humbly, the guest comes open, the guest comes not with answers or ‘I told you so’ or lecture or talking ‘at’ the other. The guest comes gently, slowly and humbly into the sacred space of the other and brings a heart open and willing to listen – to create space. This ‘guest-ness’ is a life long journey and requires life long learning – we have to work at it.

But when we come as guest – the other senses it. They sense that we are in that sacred space, that we are there ‘for them’ and that we are holding them and their story in our hearts; not to change us, not to transform us, not to correct us – but just to be with us on our journey. This relationship invites a reciprocity – for the other to be there for us too.

The reason for this blog – the reason I am passionate about it – is that I am convinced that so much of the pain of our world comes down to people putting up labels for the other, people building walls instead of bridges, people seeing ‘us’ and ‘them’ and not seeing the person and their story. My experience, experienced thousands of times, is that simply when I come as guest, when I deeply listen to the story of the other, letting go of labels and the ego voice in my head that tells me I must be right and they must be wrong – then the energy, the dynamic shifts – and our ability to truly meet as brothers and sisters on life’s journey increases. This space leads to solidarity. This space and dynamic leads to acceptance and understanding. This space can lead to peace! What a gift!

5 thoughts on “Story

    1. Dear Celia,
      Wonderful to hear from you; my first response!!!! My eldest brother was born in Oakland, California. Thanks for taking the time to respond – it made my day. I am in quarantine here at present having returned from Italy on March 23rd. Story is so powerful. Every time I am stuck or confused – it is my default response – to listen to or share story. Would value your reflections and questions and challenges on this adventure of a blog. Damien

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  1. Damien, you are one of the most knowledgeable, engaging and wise ‘story tellers’ I know…keep sharing the Good News with hope and joy….

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  2. Wonderful! In my role as hospital and Prison chaplain, I’m privileged to daily stand (or sit) on that holy ground. I’m thinking in particular of the stories I hear from those in their 90s – their vivid glimpses into the Depression, war, struggles etc. And, most precious, the time I was very fortunate to spend in Queensland with the Christian Brothers – listening to Auntie Sandra and Aunty Ada and the community who birthed the Memory Project at the Ration Shed in Cherbourg, a living collection of the stories of those who were placed in the infamous Dormitory system. Thank you so much, Damien, for this encounter with the heart.

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