Words are how we think; stories are how we link. Stories are how we create order and make meaning out of our life experiences — whether we are sitting down at the end of the day and recounting a jumble of events until they come into sense, or looking back over the decades in search of patterns. We do this verbally, weaving through the social fields of our daily lives, and many of us — millions of private writers — also commit to sorting our lives in journals, blogs, emails, Facebook posts, letters, scrapbooks, collages, and photo collections. Technology for recording our lives is expanding exponentially.
"ReStorying Your Life with Christina Baldwin" is a new 12-part e-retreat in Spirituality & Practice's Elder Spirituality Project. It is designed for people interested in what is commonly called "life review." Life review can occur at any stage of life, particularly around transitions, leaps of growth, awareness of aging, and desire for more consciousness in how we are living out our life stories.
The e-course is divided into four parts with these themes:
1. Getting present with our stories: Carrying our life experiences as sources of empowerment, learning, preparation, healing. The basics of writing, sorting, and reframing. We don't change the "facts," we change our relationship with our experiences.
2. Living in history, time, and place: Building bridges of understanding between our personal lives and life around us. The amazing leap into swimming through the stories that inspire and inform us about the varieties of experience. How are our lives influenced by wider circumstances?
3. Grief and gratitude: The spiritual work of finding meaning and purpose in tenuous times. Exploring our capacity to hold the full spectrum of who we are and to write from a mythical perspective. The spiritual narrative is where we source the meaning we make.
4. Legacy through story: What do you leave on Earth for the future to find? Story is a map; the story that gets one person through can get the next person through. What do you consciously leave in your lineage and spheres of influence as a map for those who come next?
This retreat was created by Christina Baldwin, one of S&P's Living Spiritual Teachers who has contributed two classics to the modern renaissance in personal writing: One to One, Self-Understanding through Journal Writing (1977, rev. 1991) and Life’s Companion, Journal Writing as a Spiritual Quest (1990 — revised subtitle Journal Writing as a Spiritual Practice, 2008). Her most recent book on writing, Storycatcher, Making Sense of our Lives through the Power and Practice of Story, reflects her passion for the stories of our lives that emerge from this practice. Describing her motivation for creating this e-course, she says:
"I believe story is what makes us and saves us. My current exploration is how journal writing creates a life narrative of enduring strength (yes we have to first endure several decades of whining — but when that’s over, wow!) that allows us to serve as storycatchers for our communities and as leaders in understanding how story can save us on a collective level. We journal writers have work to do to help shape the social, scientific, and spiritual stories we need to survive our current crises. Write on!"
To try your hand at reviewing your life through a variety of formats, sign up for this special e-course. You will receive:
• 12 emails with reflections from Christina Baldwin.
• journal prompts, suggested exercises, and ideas for different ways to tell your story
• access to an one-hour teleconference with Christina Baldwin that was held in November 2013 when this e-course was first offered.
(4 CEHs for Chaplains available.)
(choose your own start date and frequency)