The most amazing thing happened when I began writing this blog: I started to hear stories. People who I never expected to have profound experiences surprised me by sharing stories of moments of grace in their lives.
People look for open doors.
Richard Dawkins began his book The God Delusion with a story about his wife. When she was a child her parents registered her in a school that she hated. She wanted more than anything to leave it and to come home, but she never told her parents how she felt. Many years later as an adult, she told them how much she had hated the place. Her parents, alarmed, asked her why she never had said anything. She said, “But I didn’t know I could.”
She didn’t see an open door.
Dawkins went on to say that people raised in religious environments often feel they can’t speak out when they disagree with the teachings of their faith, and this is true.
But this cuts both ways.
In our age of science and fact and materialism, stories of spiritual experiences are frowned upon. Scepticism, disdain or mistrust all line up to slam the door in the face of people thinking about sharing the kind of stories that make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.
We feel compelled to keep our mouths shut and our feelings to ourselves. Often, because we don’t hear other stories of similar experiences, we wonder if we’re losing our minds.
It’s time we opened the door
The thin place stories that I’ve included in this blog over the past couple of weeks open a door for more stories just like it. Many of us can identify with Anne Lamott’s feelings—skulking around with a prayer book in her purse and not advertising faith for fear that people will conclude all kinds of scary things. And when we receive our faith payoffs, like the beautiful passage that she received, we keep them quietly to ourselves.
Telling our stories is risky, but each story opens a door for someone else. If we align our straws with the Gulf Stream, we open ourselves to receive the stories of others, and we free up the channel to pour out our own moments of grace.