Wisdom. The practice of giving and receiving story is a time honored way of gathering wisdom to ourselves. Sharing our story, in whatever form we choose, allows an opening for us to understand that which may have eluded us till now and an opening for connection with others. Writing the story of my mother's Alzheimer's disease took a lot of courage.
It is a story that I had avoided telling for years; I was so afraid that I would slide down to a place of grief from which there was no return. Yet, with the encouragement of wise friends, I wrote it — and freed a piece of my soul that had been imprisoned for years. In both the writing and the sharing of Mom's story I learned, and remembered, many things, among them that story is central to learning and that sharing story is both an opportunity for gathering wisdom and understanding to ourselves and a way to spread wisdom into the world.
I needed to share that story of my mother; I needed to crack open the hard shell I had built around the sadness and the anger and the pain, because I needed the healing. Holding those feelings so tight within was constricting my joy in life and my ability to be fully present in the world. We have limited energy, and if much is going towards not knowing what we know, not feeling what we feel, little is left for the rest of life.
Our stories, be they fables, fairy tales, or sacred stories, are all meant to teach us something. Whether the cautionary tale of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, the inspiring story of Jack The Giant Killer, or the illustrative Hansel and Gretel (that witch got hers), we use stories as guides so we know how to live.
I have come to believe that our offering to the world is the stories that we share and, in exchange for the courage it takes to do so, we get wisdom and peace.
These are among the many gifts of story.