Perhaps the most significant aspect of listening to others’ stories and sharing our own is the realization that our stories are not set in stone. In listening to and composing our lives, we abandon the notion of the past as having a meaning and work to extract alternative meanings that may prove more life-giving. God’s action in our lives is always open to new interpretation. ...
When a group first forms, each participant is invited to reflect upon, construct, and share the story of his or her journey: the key events, persons, places, and experiences; their understanding of the sacred and how that has changed over the course of their lives; and their deepest hopes for their relationship with what they deem to be sacred in their lives. If a group continues to meet on a regular basis, participants may select or design additional themes for their storytelling ... [such as the topics agreed upon with your dialogue partners]. Perhaps the most significant aspect of reflecting on one’s story is the realization that our stories are always open to new interpretation. Each time we listen to our lives, we have the opportunity to discover, notice, and name more fully what we hold to be sacred. To help participants begin to construct a narrative of their journey, they are asked to reflect upon the following questions:
If my life were a book, I would title it
The reasons I give my life this title are
The chapters in the book of my life are
The chapter I am in right now is
As I imagine the next chapter on my journey, I would name it
To model the storytelling process, we ask group facilitators to share their stories first. As they do, we encourage them to describe to participants their process for reflecting upon and constructing their narrative.
[S&P Editors: We suggest that, after completing the above, the facilitator ask each member of the group to share what commonalities they heard in each other’s stories. Record those commonalities for the group to reference throughout the conversation and subsequent meetings.]— Diane M. Millis in Conversation – The Sacred Art