Like all of us, I was born into a story that came from authors whose first drafts had been submitted to the Great Publisher. And, as the Great Publisher is want to do, my story emerged as a mash-up of two different plot lines that no amalgam of common interest or common sense would have blended together. But, of course, that is the case with most stories that get turned in. And they are the stories the Great Publisher likes best.
To make the mash up possible, the two plot lines usually get braided together with strands of intrigue, excitement, confusion, convenience, pain, stubbornness, discovery, determination and love. These are among the elements the Great Publisher pulls out from the box called “conflict”. Turns out, no matter what two stories come together, conflict always gets woven in. From there, we are given the intrigue that every life needs. And we are asked to journey toward the heart of the matter.
Matthew Fox, one of the Great Publishers in the school of Creation Spirituality, studied the early mystics (those who understand how all things are connected together) and discovered that everyone is constantly working on writing and re-writing their story – as well as the stories in which they appear. He noted that everyone is working to become the author – not simply the actor – in their own story. To do so, we need to affirm what we truly are, accept what we are not, join with what the essence we’ve become separated from, and transform the world (as it, all the while, transforms us).
To paraphrase Michaelangelo Buonarroti, when asked how he is able to transform a block of marble into a creation like the great statue of David, simply said,
“I simply train myself to see everything that is David and cut away everything that is not.”
The journey of our lives is like this. We are called to find our true selves by disentangling ourselves from what is no longer us. As Albert Schweitzer said,
“The path of awakening is not about becoming who you are. Rather it is about unbecoming who you are not.”
Some of what we need to do – before we co-create each other and transform the world, is affirm what is true and let go what is not. This will reduce our story to its essential truth.
There is an exercise that is recommended in Soul Matters – the program we use to develop our monthly themes – that asks us to get to the heart of things by paring down our story to just six words. This was inspired by one of the great minimalist writers, Earnest Hemingway who accepted a bar bet to write a novel in 6 words. He responded, “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
What follows are some of the six word life journeys that have come from this exercise. Consider them for the insight they may offer in describing your own story:
Married by Elvis; divorced by Friday
Threw spaghetti on wall; some stuck.
We’re the family you gossip about.
Tried surfing on a calm day.
Wasn’t born a redhead; fixed that.
Mom was “earthy”; Now I’m “green.”
Son’s autism broke and rebuilt me.
Tore up my own suicide letter.
Sixty. Still afraid of the dark.
Class clown; Class president; town drunk.
Forged through fire; sustained by friendships.
Life’s GPS keeps saying, recalculating… recalculating.
The exits were entrances in disguise.
Born. Love. Love. Love. Love. Die.
I continue to work on my story. And I follow the adage of famous writer James Michener who said, “I’m not a very good writer… but I’m a hell of a re-writer.” Sometimes we need to live through the first draft before we get the right words. Then, when we get to the heart of that first version, we are ready to tell the story we were born to tell.
My story is like our story. It’s about Love. And it has faced – and overcome – the obstacles that kept us from having and sharing Love. But, ultimately, it’s about learning that we are more who we were meant to be when we figure out how to serve love, rather than be served by it. And ultimately, we’re called to be generous in such service.
I hope, this month, as we write the next chapters of UUSM’s story, we are generous with love. That we tell the truth, call out what matters, and help connect those around us.
To the Glory of Life.