Sharing Our Sacred Stories
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” —Phillip Pullman
“I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside, I am light.” —India.Arie (I am Light, song lyric)
Recently, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “You are beautiful.” What a wonderful quote to read while driving along. It doesn’t matter who sees that bumper sticker. Every person receives the same affirming message: You are beautiful, simply because you are. Just being here is enough to make it so.
Spiritual teachers throughout time have been spreading similar good news. You are worthy. You are loved.
Our lives are worthy, not because of what we do. And certainly not because of what we own, where we live, or how we look. Each of our personal stories—regardless of the details—is sacred. They are sacred because we are spiritual beings.
As Marge Piercy once shared in a poetry workshop that took place right after 9/11, art is how we give shape and meaning to our lives. Sharing our stories (and other creative expressions) is also how we connect with one another.
If you’ve lost someone close to you or if you’ve undergone a major life crisis, it doesn’t matter what religion you are, the color of your skin, whether you are straight or gay, what political party you support, and what ethnic background you come from. When we lose people we love or abruptly come face-to-face with our own mortality, all that disappears. What remains is the story written in our hearts. In what ways did we grow or learn? Did we discover moments of joy? How well did we love?
My personal story, as shared in my new book, Traveling Spirit, interweaves the stories of friends, family members, and those I love. It includes a father who left when I was 4 years old. He and my mother divorced, and he returned to live in Vietnam after his military service there. Years later, he returned to the States with his Vietnamese family. Shortly before his 55th birthday, he died in a drunk driving accident. That is part of my story. But my story also includes two incredible daughters and a spiritual journey that has brought me more gifts than I ever could have imagined. My story now includes writing and publishing a book—a creative vocation that finally feels in alignment with Spirit!
Each day, I add to my story. The people I meet, the lessons I learn, the places I visit, and the relationships I cultivate all bring new chapters to my life’s story. I also have the ability to ask myself: How do I want this story to continue? Is there something I can do today to make it happier or more meaningful? Is there someone I can help—in whatever small way—so that his or her story is a bit brighter?
As you create your own moving, living, breathing work of art (your life story!), be sure to carry with you the bumper sticker mantra: “You are beautiful.”
In joy & gratitude,
Diana J. Ensign