Spiritual Impact of Story Listening
1. Trust Building - Sharing - Soul Friend
2. Community Building - Relational
3. Affirmation - child of God. Family of God. Called people. Baptism.
4. Meaning - Life Purpose and Destiny
5. Blessing - Thanksgiving and appreciation - Eucharistic
6. Peace - more together - whole - complete - integration
7. Atonement - reconciliation - forgiveness
The trust level can increase. I was witness to this recently during a bible study on a Sunday lectionary passage. Toward the end of the discussion several people shared more personal stories. The trust level had grown during the discussion where some were comfortable sharing personal stories that related to the discussion.
Relationships and a community bond grows. A mutual benefit can be experienced by the story teller and the story listener.
Meaning and fulfillment can be affirmed. Theologically one can see the incarnation characteristics as the listener makes room for the story in the inn of his or her consciousness. I sometimes refer to the as the Christmas experience. Evelyn Underhill talked about the continuing incarnation.
Some degree of reconciliation can be experienced. “Ministers of reconciliation” can be translated “servants of change.” Listeners function as a mid-wife in allowing people to move to a new place from where they were.
A blessing, benedictum, good word, may be given in a variety of ways when the one telling the story says to the listener “I needed to tell someone.” "I appreciate your listening." "Thanks."
Different ways to convey the message of significant stories.
When I do a two hour grass roots health care orientation session I help people know what they already know but do not know they know. I engage in the process of intellectual conversion. I have found two hours may not be sufficient. Even though people are already hearing significant stories, the old mind set of scientific medicine and health care as cure is embedded in the non professional as well as the professional. Resistance comes from both the professional, turf, and from the non professional, lack of knowledge. The common factor would be fear.
I gave a health care sermon in a Church on the Sunday where they were emphasizing healthy life styles. During the sermon I did my significant story survey another way. Usually, I have people write them out on paper or I can engage them in a one to one conversation. Now I have a short time with a large group. I do the survey another way. I ask them to raise their hand if any have made hospital visits? visited in a nursing home? attended a visitation for a funeral? How many heard stories when you were there at any of these places? Raise your hand. Look around. See how many hands are up?
Now when you heard these stories in the different locations how many realized you were engaged in ministry? health care? I lose them at health care. Nurses will raise their hand.
Then I stress how in chronic illness and prevention where more responsibility is with the person. And how story listening effects body, mind, and spirit.
On this Sunday the parish nurse had provided six alternative healthy snacks for the coffee hour along with their usual rolls and doughnuts. What did the people eat right after being reminded of our responsibility in caring for their bodies? Most went for the rolls and doughnuts.