For about a month now, we have come together weekly. We have discussed various strategies for writing our spiritual autobiographies, and gathering or recalling that information. We have shared poems and prayers, and been moved to tears by the same. Where do we go from here?
The meeting commenced with a reading of William Stafford’s poem, “The Way It Is“. In this poem, William Stafford seems to capture, with the concept of a “thread”, the metaphorical journey that connects our stories. What is the thread of belief connecting our experience?
The meeting then moved to a discussion of a David Brooks NYT editorial about a recent TED Talk, given by the the musician Sting. The video of Sting’s talk is not available at the time of this posting, but you should check back here for updates, to view the talk in its entirety when it goes live. Sting discusses his rise to fame, and the period of time in his life when “the muse abandoned him”, and he was unable to write new songs. Rather than discussing the future, as many TED talks tend to, Sting went into the past, asking how much richer is historical context, than future visions. What happens when we impose a narrative order on our past experiences, in hindsight?
“Life”, David Brooks says, “has a way of blowing you off course. People have a way of forgetting what they originally set out to do. Going back means recapturing the original aspirations.”
In this, our fourth session of the Spiritual Autobiography series, we begin to explore moving our writings from our personal notebooks, to a more public stage, if we so choose. The model we explore in this enterprise, is the NPR series turned non-profit corporation, This I Believe. We took a look through the writings we had done since the beginning of this series. We looked for common threads, or themes, running through the pieces. We considered whether the stories we had chosen to write could be distilled into a theme of belief.
We read through the essay writing guidelines provided by This I Believe. We also compared and contrasted the 1950’s guidelines to the current version. One of the examples of we discussed was Andrew Brodsky’s, “The Space Between Us”. There are many more examples of these essays available online & in a series of books.
What do we believe in most sincerely? What have our stories shown us about our beliefs? We split off to write on our own for 20-30 minutes. After this, we paired with a class member & read our entries to each other. The sharing in the room is quite easy & beautiful – it has been comforting to watch the participants grow spiritually together over these past several weeks.
We ended the meeting with a reading of “Kindness“, by Naomi Shihab-Nye. The poem states in part:
Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth.
We adjourned for the week.