Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Important Stories

"Flowers in the Wilderness"
- in my meditation garden -

While browsing through several online newspapers this morning I read all about the important stories of the day. There was a story about Donald Trump’s latest outrageous comments at a rally, a story about the latest poll results in the presidential primaries, a local story about a fire that destroyed a house in my neighborhood. It suddenly struck me that these stories really weren’t all that important after all, and in one sense they really weren’t even stories. They were reports about and descriptions of usually-sensationalized events that happened the day before deemed to be significant enough to make it into the news. For the most part, these so-called important stories did little more than depress me or discourage me.  

Real stories inspire us, they open up a different and deeper kind of truth. Real stories build us up rather than tear us down.

My very first childhood memories were of a time when I was about 3 years old when we all lived together as an extended family in a big old house - my grandparents, my mom and dad, my uncle. The thing I remember most about this time was “gathering together” as a family after an evening meal and telling stories.

We didn’t even own a TV back then and I don’t even remember listening to a radio, but I do remember listening to the stories the adults would share around the dinner table.  Often times the stories were about long-dead relatives, how they came to America, what life was like back then. Sometimes my grandmother (who was an excellent storyteller) would recount humorous stories about the the silly things my dad and uncle did when they were boys.

While I no longer recall much about the specific content of those stories told around the family table, I very much remember that this was a very tender time for all of us. In the telling of those stories I experienced a deep sense of love. It may be that in the telling of those stories I first experienced “God.”

 Storytelling is a spiritual discipline. When we share our stories we are opened up to a different kind of deeper truth. Real stories bind us together, real stories foster relationships. Real stories are a threshold into the experience of “God.”

Ecologist and author, David Orr, once made this wise observation about out contemporary culture:

The planet does not need more successful people.
The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, lovers
and storytellers of every kind.

Interestingly enough, my own childhood memories of our family’s storytelling times abruptly ended when I was about 6 years old. My parents bought their own house and when we moved into it, one of the very first things my father purchased was a wonderful new invention – a TV set. For the most part, my childhood memories after that are of me and my parents sitting around and staring at the TV.

Nowadays we are all so caught up with TV shows and movies or so involved with the internet or social media that we barely even talk to one another let alone share the important stories of our lives. The planet desperately needs more storytellers of every kind. We all need to become storytellers once again.

No matter how small or seemingly insignificant, our everyday lives are brimming with important stories just waiting to be told.  I walk into a coffee shop and look into the eyes of an innocent little child and there’s a story waiting to be told. I walk outside the market and a homeless woman with a toothless smile thanks me for taking the time to talk to her, and there is a story just waiting to be told.

Every single day, each and every one of us comes across important stories just waiting to be told – so take the time to tell them.


  1. Paul, you are a great storyteller - of the inspiring and uplifting kind.

  2. I recall going on a writing workshop and we all had to bring something small with us that meant something to us. Then we sat in a circle to share the story wrapped around this object to everyone present. The stories were funny, moving and incredibly revealing about this bunch of strangers. A window into their soul. It was a simple way to show that we all have rich and deep stories to tell, yet like you say, when do we make time for this? Thanks Paul.