Storytelling is Spiritual
Recently at Imago, I told a story about a time when I took communion and, when walking away from the station, lost a drop of juice off of the edge of my cracker. I looked down at the spot on the carpet in a moment of guilt, but ended up finding that I was not the only one who had ever made a mess during communion; we’ve been dropping wine and juice on the carpet for a long time. And rather than thinking about the need for carpet cleaning, instead I became aware of a connection to all of the people who had passed that spot and participated in this ritual, the messiness of our humanity, and the community represented by our many drops in the same spot.
I tell this story for a couple of reasons, the first of which a personal one: this moment left a deep impression on me. It won’t go away. The image abides with me in the sense that I can’t walk away from it, or at least don’t want to.
In my heart of hearts, I believe that we do not merely happen upon good stories; they happen upon us. I often think about a story I heard Liz Gilbert tell regarding Ruth Stone and her origins as a poet. When Stone was young, working the fields of rural Virginia, she would feel a poem “barreling down at her from over the landscape.” When this happened, she would run to her house and grab a pencil, and as the poem barreled through her, she would capture it on the page. Sometimes, she couldn’t make it quickly enough, and rather than barreling through her, it would roll over the landscape, in Stone’s words, looking “for another poet.” My poetic flows have been less literal than Stone’s, but have similarly come to me in a way that made me feel gifted by a divine presence.
But the other reason I tell the carpet story is because of the many people who admitted that the image got stuck in their mind after they saw it through my eyes. At a certain point, our stories are no longer just for us. Experiences like that are meant to be shared, giving us reasons to laugh, cry, or think together.
Each one of us has a story to tell, and the telling of that story is a spiritual act. Our stories heal us, connect us, and enrich our lives through exploration of our differences. They comfort us with the reminder that there is nothing new under the sun, and we are not alone.
Erin Springer is a millennial and an old soul who enjoys sitting beside her open window at night as the breeze drifts in. Her favorite moments are the ones where you realize you got it all wrong, and then you write about it. She loves Imago and all of the beautiful weirdos who share life together there.