Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Everyone has a story. Honoring story honors the sacred gifts that person brings to the world, to this walk. It begins with two simple things: a listening ear and a caring heart. We have forgotten how to do this. Our ears have become clogged and our hearts shielded and blocked.

Consequently, many of us have forgotten our own stories. And we certainly don't pay attention to the stories of the other. Instead of the real thing, we chew on some artificial paste. As a pitiful substitute, the media blasts stories of others into center stage of our lives. You can name the names. Most are cast in artificial light. Many fall or are fallen before our eyes. Media megaphones blare the shoulds: we should do this or that, have this or that. Subscribing to the latest media drivel, we will of course become at last happy and successful. Our individual stories fall in shadows far from glaring light. Peace and contentment, connection with the other slip illusively through our fingers. Down deep, we know there is more.

I think especially of our Elders. The language of our fast paced culture shifts like desert sands before an intense and fickle wind. Many new words are based on short-lived technology and pop culture. Increasingly, Elders get left behind. Each day, they travel into a new land where familiar terrain is more and more beyond their reach.

I remember hearing our former neighbor and his Grandson visiting as their beautiful deep, almost mirror image, voices carried over the fence between the yards. The Grandson would share with Grandfather his adventures in the world. A few years later, I remember asking one of my 20 something students that if, when she was 50 years older, that no one asked about her story, those things she held dear over the course of her life, how would she feel? Laura responded: "I'd be mad."

Of course, the Elder's role is to listen to such things. But who stops and pays attention to the stories of the Elders? Who listens to and honors their stories? Who comes to learn and grow? In traditional cultures, the Elders pass on the stories of the culture. They are the glue that holds it all together. They have weathered the seasons and as a result have some essential lessons to share. Plus, they are living manifestations of our history. They are the window to the past. They are the very foundations for our present and future. In the West, we pass them by at accelerating rates of speed. We let them sit in places of isolation which do not honor the sacred space in which they reside.

Every single person has a story. Even that person who is most like us and least like us has a story. Magic arises as we open those ears. We place ourselves and them in a position of honoring. We come to share, learn and grow, not to judge. Our hearts open, and the light shines all around.

As we begin to do this, sometimes we break free what seems like a long held messy block in the plumbing. Those first words may gush and they may not make sense. But once the flow begins, it can become the sense that matters most of all.

So what, Dear Friend, is your story? What is your purpose here on this walk in time? Of all the experiences you have had in life, what are some you cherish most? Who is someone that you wish to know their story? And for them to know yours?

At long last, we are listening up.


Photo above: Everything has a story too. Sometimes that story is not what it first appears. In 1966, Richard's Mother (Ethel Kirkpatrick Crawford) gave us this beautiful Broken Star quilt as a wedding gift. In 1985, I wrote a family book on her quilts and her life. At the time of my research on her quilts which was almost 20 years after she had given this quilt to us as a gift, I found out Mom C. had originally made this quilt for herself. The date was about 1955 and the 2 pink prints were from the 1930s and 40s. The quilt was handquilted by neighbor and friend Mrs. Rosy Crowder. This quilt, which was never used, was her pride and joy. Later, when each of her 1st 3 sons were married, she made them quilts off the original pattern in colors of their choosing. When the 4th and last son was to be married, she decided she did not want to make another one, so she gave us hers. Considerable magic sits in story, particularly family story. Why we would even consider watching TV?

Photo below: Ethel May Kirkpatrick Crawford in late teens (late 1920s).

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