Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Telling Our Stories

"My Lord, What a Morning!"

As I sat and watched another glorious day dawn in the desert, for some reason, I had this flash of memory come to me from a time when I was about five years old.  We all lived together as an extended family in a big old house back in Western New York - my grandmother and grandfather, my parents, my uncle and me. 

Although I don't have real clear memories of those days, I do somewhat vividly recall sharing the supper meal together every evening. I don't remember the actual meals, but I do remember what would happen after supper was over when we all simply sat together at the table or in the living room and "talked." We didn't have a television set (no one did at the time) and obviously there was no rushing off to check emails or make phone calls, so we "talked."  It was a time of great storytelling.

The stories told around the table recounted the simple everyday events of the day- what happened at work, a conversation about meeting a neighbor at a local market.  Sometimes the stories took a more nostalgic twist. I remember my grandmother, who was a particularly good storyteller, regaling us with tales of her childhood days. My mother would also chime in with stories about growing up in her native Wales.  On and on it would go until it was time for me to go to bed where I would think about those "table stories." They were a great comfort to me in the darkness of the night.  

Now, many years later, as I recall those tender, poignant memories of telling the stories of everyday life,  I have some insight about what was happening around that table. Our stories were connecting us together - weaving us into a fabric of relationship, and although I hardy knew it back then, the stories were perhaps my first window into an abiding Holy Presence in my life. 

When I was six years old, my parents bought their own house and we moved away. One of the first things they did was buy a wonderful, exciting new invention called a television set. There weren't a lot of stories told after that.

Perhaps because of my childhood experiences, I have always loved telling my stories and hearing the stories of others. Every day I try to tell some of my story when I write this blog. I talk about a waiter in a restaurant, meeting a hiker on a desert trail, a conversation with the craftsmen who installed my shower.  I talk about the rising sun in my meditation garden -hummingbirds, fountains, rushing wind in desert valleys.   

But, when it comes to hearing other people's stories, I am feeling kind of "story deprived."  Every day I have lots of discussions and plenty of conversations with people, but I don't hear a lot of storytelling. Maybe people are just too distracted by the technology of the day; or maybe, people don't think their everyday stories of ordinary life are interesting enough to share. 

The truth is that in our stories of everyday living we find the greatest poetry life has to offer - and every story anyone has to tell has something important to say.  The stories we share weave us together in relationship.  Our stories are windows into the Holy in our lives.

Wang Wei (Chan Buddhist) tells a simple little story:

When happy, I go alone into the mountains, such joy. I walk until the water ends and sit waiting for the hour when clouds rise. If I happen to meet an old woodcutter, I chat with him, laughing and lost to time.

The simplest little ordinary stories are often the most beautiful, tender and poignant poetry we can offer to one another. 

Tell some stories today.  Better yet, why not send me an email ( and share your stories with me.

read more of my stories in my book


  1. My wife & I haven't watched TV for over six years now, we just sit together & talk, contemplate & read together.