The church I attend is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. The celebration will include asking people to share stories about meaningful experiences related to the congregation. We’re trying to make this as easy as possible, offering a few questions as a way to prompt their stories. I asked my friend Jeanne, a writer, to let me know if she had suggestions for changing the prompts I was giving people. She did.
Jeanne said that she’s learned through teaching writing courses that a prompt is really, really important. Asking people to share a specific moment is key, Jeanne told me. For instance, the question I shared was, “What is meaningful about being part of this faith community?” Jeanne’s suggested change was, “What moment, recently or awhile ago, made you realize that Sinai is a gift to you?”
The difference is asking about a moment.
Richard Rohr wrote in Falling Upward, “Whether we find our True Self depends in large part on the moments of time we are each allotted, and the moments of freedom that we each receive and choose during that time. Life is indeed ‘momentous,’ created by accumulated moments in which the deeper ‘I’ is slowly revealed if we are ready to see it.
I just spent a weekend at a gathering of 317 middle schoolers (12-14 year olds) and their adult leaders. When people hear about this and say, “That must have been crazy,” I could respond, “Oh, they’re really amazing people. They have big hearts and so much positive energy.” This would be true, and I hope it would help the hearer know it was a good weekend.
It does seem more powerful to share moments like this one, though:
It was breakfast on Sunday morning. I’d just spent the night in a sleeping bag on a slowly deflating air mattress. Halfway through a long breakfast line, I realized I’d missed the forks and spoons. I asked a nearby youth where they were. She pointed them out near the beginning of the line.
“Thanks.” I said, and went through to the end of line before turning back to retrieve some silverware. I didn’t walk two steps back before that same young lady reached out her hand. She held a spoon and a fork that she’d gone back to get for me.
I’m wondering what moment you could share to describe an experience you had this past weekend, and I’m wondering what would happen if each of us shared more moments with one another as we share stories.