For the third time, I come with a reflection on stories as a most important human point of departure.
At the 2014 Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly, Sr. Simone Campbell gave the honored “Ware Lecture” to the delegates gathered there. Her talk is worth listening to in its entirety, but one thing she said summed it up for me:
“It’s in hearing stories that hope, the communal virtue, is nourished.”
Hope, she says, is the communal virtue. I take that to mean that while I may have my private and personal–little “h” hopes–HOPE is a virtue that we really only hold and practice in common. As a virtue, hope has to be more than wishing. As a virtue, hope has to be practiced. The practice of virtues can have many applications, as I think the communal virtue of hope does, but Sr. Simone identifies one of those most significant practices: telling stories. Consider some of the things that story telling does.
Storytelling connects the past with the present creating a trajectory for the future. HOPE!
Storytelling kindles in the teller and those listening creativity and imagination. HOPE!
Storytelling frames the way a community understands life giving moral direction. HOPE!
Storytelling allows the present troubles to fall away for a bit while we enter new possibilities for the present. HOPE!
Storytelling allows us a momentary innocence where we see, hear, taste, touch, smell and deeply sense in a new way all over again. HOPE!
Today, through the course of ordinary events, people will tell you stories. You may tell stories to others. They may be very short stories–a sentence or two. Listen for the hope in them. Today, in the name of communal hope, tend well to the stories you hear, the stories you tell, and listen deeply for the wisdom that arises out of them. This is basic humanity, 101. It’s practice is our life and our hope.