SHARE YOUR STORY
Back in 2019, a group from All Saints, dedicated to the belief that story-sharing and deep listening were foundational to our faith, began working on ways to more intentionally incorporate these practices into our communal life. They called themselves The Living Stones Listening Project, from 1 Peter 2:5, “Come to him, a living stone…chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.” They developed a small easy-to-use story-sharing kit; the idea being that any two people (or small group) could use the format and prompts to explore being together in ways that moved beyond small talk. Then 2020 happened, and while iterations of this process found their way into many of our online meetings, the full Living Stones Listening Project Story-sharing Kit lay dormant…until now! We invite you to use the guide below to explore the holy practice of listening and story-sharing.
Living Stones Listening Project Story-sharing Kit—a simple guide for deeper conversations.
The Living Stones Listening Project (LSLP) invites you to take a risk, to tell a story (or two or three), to listen to others, and to build our community. We encourage storytelling and story-listening as a way to build meaningful connections in order to be fully present to God’s work in the world. We believe storytelling engenders compassion and capacity to take action.
This little kit offers some guidelines for listening to and telling stories. It offers a set of prompts to help start conversations on a deeper level. It also provides some options for prayers to surround your story-sharing. We invite you to support the practice of story-sharing within All Saints Parish (and beyond!) by using this kit to get started.
THE POWER OF STORY
Truly human connection, and connection to the Divine, happens in vulnerability and mutuality. Opening up to vulnerability can be a challenge and you will want to feel safe to do so; you will also need to be a little brave. When beginning the practice, give yourself permission to honor your own boundaries, tell as much of your story as feels comfortable. Allow yourself to take the time to think about the story you want to tell. All stories contain wisdom—you never know how your story might touch someone. You also may find that when you share it, your own story touches you differently. Everyone’s story is worthy to be heard.
TELLING YOUR STORY
Gather with a partner (or two or three), agree on a prompt, then begin with a few minutes in silence to think of a story to share. Everyone shares for the same amount of time (3-5 minutes is a good amount). It is okay to set a timer on a phone. It’s important to share the time equally, to ensure everyone’s story is given the same attention. You can decide the amount of time based on the prompt and the size of the group. It is helpful, but not necessary, to have someone familiar with the process share first to model it.
RECEIVING A STORY
If you are a listener, really listen. Trust that when it’s your turn to speak, you will find the words for your story and try not to plan while listening. Listen with full attention and mostly with your heart. Try not to interpret or add to what the storyteller is saying. Simply receive it. Listen for what resonates in you. Acknowledge receiving the story by responding with just one word or phrase that caught you, resonated with you, or you felt was particularly resonant for the storyteller.
Try not to get into a discussion. Just let the story be told and received and held within the group. The wonder and mystery that accompany vulnerability have a sacredness about them that is often best honored in compassionate silence, rather than words. You may follow up on some aspect of what you heard or shared at a later time.
When all have shared, thank everyone who has shared, and offer a closing prayer.
Here are a list of prompts/question that can get you started sharing stories. Please feel free to select one, or decide together on a different question that resonates with your group.
- Describe a time when you felt really connected to God.
- Where do you go to feel connected to God?
- Share a story about an experience that taught you something about the power of faith.
- Share a story about a time when a community lifted you up.
- Tell a story about encountering something miraculous in your life.
- Tell about a place that is spiritually significant for you other than All Saints.
- What is one thing you want to do but haven’t had capacity for in your faith life?
- If you had no barriers and all the resources you needed, what would you do?
Add your own!
OPENING OR CLOSING PRAYER
Prayer attributed to St. Therese of Lisieux
May today there be peace within.
May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content in knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us.
OPENING OR CLOSING BLESSING
from Jan Richardson
What we choose changes us.
Who we love transforms us.
How we create remakes us.
Where we live reshapes us.
So in all our choosing, O God, make us wise;
In all our loving, O Christ, make us bold;
In all our creating, O Spirit, give us courage;
In all our living, may we become whole.
And the blessing of God almighty: Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit, be upon us, and those we love, and those for whom we pray this day and forever more.