Living Arts Weekly: The Stories that Shape Us

November 22, 2020

Your life matters. You can’t live through a day without making an impact on the world. And what’s most important is to think about the impact of your actions on the world around you.   -Jane Goodall

Last Christmas I participated in Lynn Jericho’s Inner Christmas over the 12 Holy Nights. As a participant I received a message for each Holy Night centering upon the theme of Pre-Birth Promises. At the end of the Holy Nights, each message is revisited during each month of the coming year. As a practice, I read, meditated, and journaled about them, so I also revisit these entries each month. I have been astounded with how many times these messages have manifested as a focus in my life even weeks before I revisit the writings.

Since Martinmas, I have been driven by an impulse to explore how uniquely stories shape us. A thread of commonality runs through the stories and the lives of people I admired as a young person. Courage. Great service. Strength in the face of adversity. Empowerment. All of these qualities showed up year after year, story after story, quietly sculpting who I became and who strive to be today. Certainly this is no accident. As these stories seemed to find me as often as I found them, I wondered: Just as the people in our lives serve a purpose for our destiny, can the same be said for stories? From there I began considering the commonalities in the stories and books my sons hunger for. How are they asking to be shaped?

Then, I took the opportunity to revisit Lynn’s Inner Christmas message. What do you know? It’s “To Make Impact.” In her message she shared a story about a man who made an impact on her through the few encounters they had. She says, “I thought about how very little I knew about his story and how irrelevant his story was to his impact on my soul. His impact was on my soul, not my story!” Wow. What an interesting perspective. It made me wonder about these stories that impacted me…. What was truly speaking to me that left the impact?

She also wrote about understanding “the difference between the karma of our stories and the qualities/virtues of our destinies.” Was it actually a shared quality of destiny that connected us through the vehicle of story?

The stories I sought out were about people who made a tremendous impact on the world- Joan of Arc, Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Oscar Romero, Maya Angelou, among those who were actually a part of my life. As the importance of this quality has grown within me, it has shaped the way I chose to mother my children. It is inescapable, our effect on others, and yet, how do we strive to make it a positive impact? We do this with great awareness and love for others. And how do we foster this?

Let parents bequeath to their children not riches, but the spirit of reverence.    -Plato

I believe it starts with reverence. The stories from my childhood were about people that I admired with great respect. I was also in awe of their deeds. In other words, I revered them. I also revered the world around me: the natural world and the world of relationships. My parents cultivated this in me, but how do I cultivate it in my own children? In examination of the seven-year phases of childhood, there is a framework for creating and deepening reverence that is appropriate for every age.

In early childhood, before the age of seven, we are surrounding the child with Goodness, and working with their will. At this time, I ask myself: How might I demonstrate reverence in my doing? How do I slow the pace of my day to allow life to naturally occur and leave space for wonder?

In middle childhood, ages 7-14, the child develops their feelings and soul life through the experience of Beauty in the world. What experiences of beauty– natural and man-made– am I bringing to them that might inspire reverence? What relationships are kindling reverence in their life?

And in adolescence, 14-21, we are stimulating critical thinking to discern Truth in the world and supporting their experience of bringing consciousness to their actions. How might I connect him with experiences that call to question Truth and in doing so, come to form a deep respect for it? Within their fresh awareness, how again might I emphasize reverence in my doing?

Reverence is an essential component of developing love for the world. We must be in awe and wonder of it to power our interest, and gradually expand and deepen our awareness. In this process, we begin to understand our effect upon others and the world. Like Lynn said though, it’s important to understand the difference between the impact of our life stories and the purposes that they serve (our destiny). The point is not about the details of our stories– as compelling as they can be– but the contributions they make in participation with the destiny of others. We are surrounded by people, experiences, and stories that are constantly meeting and supporting us on our destined path.

“Nourish your soul through the Holy Nights this year!”

If you would like to participate in the Inner Christmas messages, you can visit Lynn’s website at This year’s theme is the Dance of Differences. I hope to meet you there!

1 thought on “Living Arts Weekly: The Stories that Shape Us”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. My children are both early childhood and middle childhood. To see questions that we may ask ourselves written out so simply as to inspire thought is very helpful with our ability as parents to connect with them.
    Thank you.

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