I have always been a lover of words. Growing up in the foothills of the Appalachians the spoken word was highly valued. We sat around the breakfast table and told fluffy as homemade biscuit stories about our night dreams and we sat together at the supper table and poured out stories about our day. Lots of times these stories were richer and smoother than the buttermilk pie we ate. These words and the laughter or tears that accompanied them nourished me. Often we’d hear old stories again and again and we knew these to be important ones. The meat and potato ones; stories meant to pass on truths or cautions. These stories whispered “this is who you are…these are the people you come from…this is what has sustained us…these are the things that brought joy or suffering into our lives…here’s how we met those joys and sufferings.”
Stories were the stew of my childhood; it seemed to me that plopped down in the middle of the stories our individual selves and flavors mixed and melded and something substantial and hardy and warm simmered.
Our stories can connect us and our words hold power. The stories we tell ourselves, and others, about ourselves, others and the world…they matter.
There have been times, in my life, when I’ve needed to borrow words and quotes and stories from others to keep my own pot simmering. Sometimes I did this to add richness or boldness or novelty to my life’s dish and sometimes the borrowing of words and quotes seemed to be the very flame that kept my pilot light lit. In adolescence, I began collecting quotes that touched me or pointed me or settled me. In early adulthood, with young children in the middle of a life storm, I took to painting quotes that spoke to my highest values and core beliefs on an oft visited bathroom wall (we were in the throes of potty training). These words were used as cherished, tattered and splattered recipes; recipes for living well. I returned to them again and again in the middle of the messiness of life and pain.
Now in middle life, there sits a sturdy, homemade, wooden and painted-red box on our table. It holds hand scribbled quotes, scripture, poems…dear words. Words that connect me to others through place and time; words that point to deep meaning and purpose; words that provide hope and land Cor Cordium (in my heart of hearts).
I continue to find sustenance and rich heartiness in the melding and connecting that shared words and stories provide. I count myself miraculously fortunate when offered another’s sacred story. And am forever grateful for my work that is so often steeped in words, story and meaning. For this chance to share a bit of my story, I’m thankful too.
May we carve out safe spaces and ample time to share heartfelt stories. May we open our hearts to the stories and words of another. And may our shared stories and words help us understand the rich broth of connection and commonality in which we simmer.
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. ~Maya Angelou
Today, may you breathe more deeply, smile more often and feel more at home in your own life.