Reflection Masthead
Issue 127 - Living our Stories -  September 2015

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Nourish us with Sacred Story
  Both our essays this issue were inspired in part by Richard Lischer's essay," Writing the Christian Life," in a recent issue of Christian Century
   Lischer, a seminary professor, who is himself the author two memoirs, notes that despite the recent popularity of the genre in U.S. publishing,, memoir "is not a fad but an established practice of the church." (Think of Augustine, Bunyan, Therese or Merton.)
   In fact, Christian memoir is explicitly counter-cultural, leading "away from the celebration of the self toward an ecclesial understanding of human beings in community."
   In short, such writers make sense of their own life-stories only as part of a larger sacred story, a sacred story that allows them to tell their own stories in such a way that is both "whole and redemptive."

Past Issues


2-Creating Sacred Space

3-Leaving Footprints


5-Ordered Life

76-Vanier Visit

87-Wondrous Fear, Holy Awe

91-Crater Lake


101-On Reflections 

102-Morning Moments

104-Into Self Into God

107-First Home

108-NBA Championship

110-On Freedom 

112 Robin Williams 


114-Simple Acts 

116-Kentucky Epiphany 

119-Christmas Mystery  


121-Radical Amazement 

122-St.John's Bible 

123-We're Back  

124-Botanical Garden 

125-Living Provisionally

126-Call of the King 

Link to all past issues   


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The Telling of our Lives
"The telling of any life ... begins in mystery and ends in faith."  
We hardly know each other, but we are related. It is the annual Labor Day family reunion. My brother is here, and only one first cousin this year, but his children and grandchildren and the children and grandchildren of other first cousins fill the room - along with assorted spouses and friends.
Somehow, over the years, cute little Emmanuel has become handsome young Emmanuel, now here with his fiancée.
We tell stories about our lives. We tell even more stories about our parents' and grandparents' lives, for it is those stories that make us family; it is those lives that gave us life - and, in some mysterious way, still do.
Yes, there are ghosts in the room, but also dreams. It was 40 years ago that we buried my grandfather in the cemetery up the hill; Grandma six years later. Now, all five of their children have  died, and four of their eleven grandchildren. But their great-great-grandchildren toddle around the room or chase each other through the hallway. These little ones may never remember the stories we tell tonight, but they will live out their own stories long after my generation is gone. Then, of course, they will tell their stories about us.
We are related by the stories we relate, not just by the DNA in our cells. We gather (to borrow a phrase from Richard Lischer) to share "the narratives that belong to us or to which we belong."
-- Bill

   Media Writing Memoirs
     One day, not long ago, I wondered if my grandparents had a car. I remember, as a toddler, visiting them at "the tacky farm" where there was a farm vehicle of some type. Years later after they moved to town, when I spent childhood summers with them, Grandmother would put me on the front porch at noon to watch for "Paw" to walk home for lunch. So I wondered, did he have a car? Then the dire awareness struck me - there was no one I could call to ask. Who can now tell the stories of their lives? Where do their narratives now live?
     As we watch the heartbreaking images on TV of desperate refugees fleeing violence in Syria, of hundreds of thousands of people, it is the faces of the little children that linger in our memory. These children, a generation of children made homeless by war, all have a story to tell. Some are put in camps, some in cages - all displaced and in search of a home. For now, the media is writing their memoirs.  
     As these children become the next generation of adults, we can only imagine the desperate stories making up their narrative. No media news story can tell of the anguish in their tiny souls. We are related to these little ones too, and their narratives belong to us. While I am telling the story of Grandpa drinking his milk coffee from a saucer, thousands of Syrian grandfathers tell the stories of the lifeless bodies of their grandchildren carried from the sea. Meanwhile, the media is writing the memoir of these grandfathers and their grandchildren, this narrative to which we also belong.           --Jan 
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Sincerely,  Bill Howden & Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries