When I introduce Life Together to others, I often mention storytelling as one of our key practices. If you’ve been a fellow, you know why: it wouldn’t be a Life Together year without multiple training sessions devoted to the practice of public narrative, where one shares a personal story that invites others to action. And if you’ve been to our annual celebration, Love Matters, you’ve heard many such stories of this community’s impact on young leaders.
Yet our stories run much deeper than those we share at Love Matters. During my own orientation as a fellow, the very first story I shared was not my public narrative-- though I have vivid memories of sitting in that hot church undercroft, panicking at the thought of writing (in five minutes!!) a coherent, compelling story that would motivate the masses. No, the first story came while sitting in a small circle on the lawn at 40 Prescott, when I shared my spiritual journey. In that story, marked by the searing pain of sudden death as well as the hope of resurrection, I was first seen by members of the Life Together community. And whenever we share our stories in community-- whether they’re deeply personal stories, stories that call others to action, or the jokes and laughter shared over dinner-- we’re being drawn together in ways that have more creative power than we even realize.
Our stories matter, as both alumna Jana Dorsey and fellow Rosamond Hayden share in their reflections this month. And they matter not only for our personal healing, but they are also vital for our collective social transformation. As Sandhya Rani Jha writes in Pre-Post-Racial America, “If we don’t find a way to listen to one another’s stories across difference… we’ll keep rebuilding the foundations of the Beloved Community over and over again.” If we are to challenge effectively the pervasive dehumanization of so many of our siblings, if we are to build something better together, we have to start by entering into one another’s stories. It is the way of Jesus, who challenged his listeners through parables to imagine that a different world was possible. When we engage with the story of those experiencing homelessness, or young black men in Dorchester, or refugees fleeing violence at home, we play a part in the creative work of the Spirit that is “making all things new.”
And in this season of Thanksgiving, I’m grateful that each of you is willing, in so many ways, to enter into the story of our year here at Life Together. Thank you.