Home > Sabbath Evenings, Stories > Sabbath Evenings – Telling Stories

Sabbath Evenings – Telling Stories

“I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?”
(Tolkien, “The Lord of the Rings”)

What a great question asked by Sam the Wise to Mr. Frodo  as they walk along together on their long journey.  It’s the question people ask, sometimes with great urgency and desperation, in order to make sense and meaning out of their own story.  People are storytellers and Counselors are one of the collectors of those stories. With each client, another story unfolds intermingled with a plot, characters, setting, theme(s), and conflict. The storytelling may take weeks, months, or years.  More often than not, clients are telling stories they have not fully spoken of until now.  This is holy ground.

The storyteller lays open long-held secrets that the Counselor is entrusted to hear and hold.

We are cradlers of secrets. Everyday [people] grace us with their secrets, often never before shared. Receiving such secrets is a privilege given to very few… Sometimes the secrets scorch me… other secrets pulsate within me… still others sadden me. Being a cradler of secrets has, as the years have passed, made me gentler and more accepting — Irvin Yalom, M.D. The Gift of Therapy.

So, like Sam the Wise, I wonder along with my clients what sort of story they have fallen into. In his book Telling Secrets, Frederick Buechner writes honestly about his father’s suicide when he was 10 years old , as well as his daughter’s struggle with Anorexia.  Buechner explains why it’s important for people to tell their stories/secrets:

“I have come to believe that by and large the human family all has the same secrets, which are both very telling and very important to tell.”  [We tell . . .]

  • To be known. “They are telling in the sense that they tell what is perhaps the central paradox of our condition–that what we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else.”
  • To live fully human without fear.  “It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are–even if we tell it only to ourselves–because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.”
  • To see where we’ve been and where we are going. “It is important to tell our secrets too because it makes it easier that way to see where we have been in our lives and where we are going.”
  • For others to know they are not alone. “It also makes it easier for other people to tell us a secret or two of their own, and exchanges like that have a lot to do with what being a family is all about and what being human is all about.”
  • Our stories are part of the bigger God story. “Finally, I suspect that it is by entering that deep place inside us where our secrets are kept that we come perhaps closer than we do anywhere else to the One who, whether we realize it or not, is of all our secrets the most telling and the most precious we have to tell.”

So, what sort of story have people—you and I—fallen into?  A purposeful one, to be sure!  This is not a haphazard myth plummeting from out of nowhere.  Paul writes in Ephesians 1.2, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” And there is more to be said in the rest of the chapter and continues into chapter 2.  Michael Card, singer/songwriter explains people as stories this way:

“The Bible tells us that we are God’s masterpieces, (Gk.”poiema”) not only creatures, but His creations, His poems. (Eph.2:10) We are living epistles. (2Cor.3:3f) And so our lives are meant to be listened to because it is God who is speaking into and out of and through them, through the parable of each day, the symphony of the years and the masterpiece of a lifetime. If He is speaking through our lives then nothing else matters but listening to Him.

[I have much more to write about telling stories and listening to them, but will leave those thoughts for another post(s).]

What I have written so far serves as a preface to the following piece of poetry.  The poem is a story – and the narrator is one of my clients.  She has graciously given me permission to share it with you.  Her name has been changed to protect her identity, but the poem is all her – nothing has been changed or omitted.  I hope to share many more stories with you for the very reasons Frederich Buechner has laid out.

The title is “Thought You Were Gone.”  Jill [not her real name] is writing as an adult to a much younger version of herself.  You do not need to be privy to the details of her complete story to take in the tragedy and beauty.  The words are raw and honest.  You will hear angst and sadness.  And you will hear redemption, healing and  hope.

Thought You Were Gone

Thought you were gone
Thought you were dead
But there you are trapped inside my head

My lips are moving
Your ears turn deaf to my plea
Want to shake you so that maybe you can see

How sorry I am I left you all alone
For these vast sins against you, I will atone

You turn to me as silent tears fall from your sorrowful brown eyes
We are twisted and tied up in a suffocating web of lies

I have hated you more than anyone could
When no one would abuse you…… I would

I can’t number the times I would shame you for the tears you would cry
Wishing that weak little girl inside of me would crumble up and die

Everyone you loved was to screwed up to see
The wonderful person you wanted to be
You tried without ceasing to be good enough to be loved and cherished
Yet nothing was ever good enough and your soul began to perish

You found no love at home so your little feet began to wonder
Trying to figure out how to fill this void your mind began to ponder

You thought you were smart and had figured it out
A love of a man is what it was all about
You compromised yourself time and time again
Adding constantly to your growing number of sins

Each compromise made you even more broken then before
Empty and defeated you felt like a dirty whore

I couldn’t take watching you self destruct and needed to do something fast
So I buried you deep within and forgot about you at long last

The years rolled by and I was making wiser choices
All I could hear now were positive voices

I started a family more beautiful than I could have ever dreamed
I had it all together
At least that is how it seemed

Your voice started coming back as a whisper in my head at night
Desperately trying to stuff you down
I began to fight

It seemed everywhere I turned you were there
Looking at your pain was more than I could bare

I became desperate to push you away
Little compromises started creeping back into my day

Little compromises turned into enourmous ones that could not be taken back
All those good morals I had worked on were under massive attack

I tried to fix what was broken myself but it was all in vain
All my efforts just brought on more self destruction and pain

I looked up to heaven with my hands held high
Please forgive me Lord and started to cry

I’ve made a mess of my life as anyone can see
Wanting your Grace to restore me back to what you would have me to be

God showed me the only way to heal was to turn back and face the pain of the past
If I wanted any kind of peace that could last

I had tried everything I knew to avoid this task at hand
Afraid this pain my heart could not withstand

Now that I am forced to take a good look at you for exactly who and what you are
I see that you are a beautiful little girl even if a little battered and scarred

Now that I have faced the pain of the past
Those chains of yesterday are fading at long last

Walking through the pain did not kill me you see
God was right there walking with me

Hush little girl you need not cry anymore
For I love you and will abuse you no more

Little child within I’m sorry it took me so long to see
That you are a most beautiful part of  me!!

“Jill”  4/19/10

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Categories: Sabbath Evenings, Stories
  1. DH
    April 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm

    Another beautiful, insightful, and moving story. Thank you DW.

  2. A. Scott
    April 26, 2010 at 9:03 am

    The poem is beautiful. The best part, I am not alone.

  1. October 1, 2013 at 5:00 am

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