a sacred task

Photo Credit: Sam Ayres


“Heart” is the Spiritual Journey prompt for this first Thursday in February.
Thanks to Linda Mitchell for hosting.

I’m constantly asking myself these questions:

  • Is this story mine to tell?
  • Am I telling this story with the kindest truth?
  • Will this story make the world a better place?
  • Is this story wholly authentic?

It is a sacred task to tell stories, and as a story collector I carry a weight of responsibility to make sure my stories are kind, true, and filled with hope. This isn’t as easy at is might seem.

Stories have the potential to be a conduit of love. My story can spark another story that will light another and soon there’s a little glow in a corner of the darkness that wasn’t there before. It’s why I stack stories with a holy reverence.

Except when I don’t.

There have been times in my life when my stories were misunderstood, when what I intended was misconstrued. When the story was twisted. When reality became distorted and ugly accusations were hurtled my way. It doesn’t take long before a tenderhearted story collector can become uneasy.

In the late summer days of 2015, when I was still naive that my story collection would be accepted and protected, before I was bone weary from parenting and when I thought friends were friends forever, a wise trauma-specialist who was acclaimed for his work with adolescents, told Andy and me it was time to “batten down the hatches” because a dark and violent storm was brewing and roaring our way.

He was right. The storm was unpredictable and wildly savage, lasting longer than we could have conceived. Today it still churns and chops and brutally rises from time to time, but it ebbs. We finally have started to have periods of reprieve that last longer than wisps of peace in the darkness before the day begins.

I find myself longing for my uncollected stories. Wrapped in the heart ache and the brokenness of the stories that didn’t go how I wanted them to go, I remember there is One greater than me who unfolded the storylines with precision and mercy. The One who is the author of it all.

So, I yield in a holy and sacred way to the stories that prevailed through the storm, to the stories that create an unexpected plot line, to the stories that define a life well-lived. I learned a lot about Story while battening down the hatches.  

I’m in good company when my story is misunderstood, or twisted to be used against me. The same thing happened to Jesus. Stories make us vulnerable, but that’s okay. The world needs compassion and tenderness. Stories are sacred, even the ones we wished we didn’t know.

And now, as I persevere with diligence to stack the stories, I realize that fear is toxic to story collectors. It takes bravery and courage to stack stories that give others a gumption to shine. Rather than worrying about being misunderstood, I’ve decided to simply guard my heart, for everything I do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).

I can think of no other duty that is more important than “the sacred task of making hearts larger through story.”


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  1. Your stories always leave tracks on the heart that reads them. Keep writing and telling the story we didn’t know we needed to hear.

  2. Great photo, Sam! And I love how you added the quote to the photo. Someday I need to learn how to do this.
    Welcome to Spiritual Journey Thursday! Your words have always been a welcome balm for me. Ruth, keep stacking stories and making hearts larger. It’s one of your gifts and we’ve all been blessed by it.
    Hugs for you as you move forward despite the difficulties and challenges. God is at the helm.

    • Thank you for the invitation and the kind words. Sam is becoming a photographer, and I am inspired by watching this learning process.

  3. Well, THIS is the place I should leave the comment that I DID leave at Fran’s blog. Oi! The hazzards of posting after school on Friday-Eve. Ha! I have heard of you for years via poetry friends and I’m surprised our paths have not crossed yet. I’m so glad they have today. I hear you on storm brewing. I don’t know your storm but my husband and I went through an unexpected storm several years ago. I never knew what trauma was or could do until then…and I was well and adult. My goodness, what it must do to children. I have your story questions in my journal now. I think I need to remember more the sacredness of stories. I signed up for the Danville (Danville, VA) Storytelling show this weekend. I adore professional story tellers and I have always wondered if I could ever work up the nerve to try it.

  4. Absolutely beautiful. I love the idea of story writing/telling/sharing being a sacred task, and I love these words, too: “I learned a lot about Story while battening down the hatches.” We need to write through our fear, write with our hearts. Yes, yes, yes – ‘It takes bravery and courage to stack stories that give others a gumption to shine.” Thank you so much for this post.

  5. Thanks for joining us, Ruth, and for your wonderful words of sacredness and story. I particularly love your questions that focus on the holy responsibility of what we tell. They speak to me and I will put it in my notebook for further contemplation. May God be with you and yours.

    • Thank you, Karen. These questions help me to be strict with the stories I choose to tell the world (and myself).

  6. Oh my, Ruth, you have taken the heart of story to a new level. It takes such courage to keep telling your truth even when others misconstrue it. Your courage becomes our courage as we write together in community. Thanks for this post and taking Kate’s words to a new and deeper meaning.

  7. Ruth, this is so beautifully written. Universal on the level of being misunderstood or having one’s meaning misconstrued. These lines strike me so: “I remember there is One greater than me who unfolded the storylines with precision and mercy. The One who is the author of it all.” I love how you yield to the holiness of this unfolding within a greater will, and how you convey the power of story and the sacredness of writing it. This resonates with me so deeply – thank you,

    • One of the things I’ve been trying to develop as a writer is to land on universal truth. Thank you for pointing it out to me, because I didn’t recognize it as universal when I wrote it.

      And I appreciate your comments about those lines. They were originally all part of one long sentence and I revised it. I wanted to highlight the precision and mercy of God. I was also excited about the pairing of “precision and mercy” because of the way they are so very different, and yet perfectly describe God.

      Thank you for encouraging me to keep writing.

  8. Ruth, I am so happy to see you here and read another beautifully constructed post of yours. Writing about the sacredness of story takes the idea of story writing to a new level. You are a bearer of tales that are authentic and full of messages that are raw and healing in the same breath. I often think of our last conversation at NCTE. It impacted me and made me realize how short encounters can be so powerful when the conversation is personal and each person is not only a speaker but a listener. I think the beauty of stories is that there is a connection that binds one to the another.Your words are powerful, Ruth. “I yield in a holy and sacred way to the stories that prevailed through the storm.” Storms continue to brew but there is One who holds the life saving tube and brings us back to shore. I hope you continue to write with us each month. You have much to give to the world. Have a blessed week.