Sacred stories are narratives from which peoples, cultures, and individuals derive hope, a sense of continuity, and of belonging. They tell our sacred truths with a power like myth: the truths we believe about ourselves, the ones that feel like freedom and lightness of heart. They are also the ones we miss when we have lost touch with them.
But sacred stories are not just about communities. We each have our own. For instance, consider this quote from Professor of Psychology, Dan P. McAdams:
A personal myth delineates an identity,
illuminating the values of an individual life.
The personal myth is not a legend or a fairy tale,
but a sacred story that embodies personal truth.
The Stories We Live By: Personal Myths and the Making of the Self
Within each of us there is an abiding sense of self, a knowledge of who we are that grounds us like an internal magnetic North. To be in tune with it is peace; to live otherwise is suffering. Discovering our personal sacred stories can be a means of reorienting our lives to be in alignment with that inner knowledge.
It is hard to live apart from the person you know yourself to be. It can feel long and hard, but as soon as you remember, it is like finding you are suddenly free. Seeing yourself as you are, with child-like eyes, is gladness of heart…
But what can we do when we have lost touch?
First of all, it is important to surround yourself with people you trust. Trusted friends and family members can reflect our hearts back to us when we feel lost and vulnerable. Your trusted community will help you remember when you forget, but it can also help to have a practice of personal reconnection.
How does one go about creating such a practice? Consider the following:
Take some time for yourself with the intention of making space for your heart. Go to a place where you have felt most like the person you are glad to be, and ask yourself questions like the following:
- What has my heart been telling me I am missing?
- What have I been longing for, or going without?
- What has seemed impossible to me, or impractical?
- If nothing were out of reach, what would I joyfully ask for?
Resist the tendency to think of these questions as happy endings; rather, consider each one a gateway to an exciting beginning. Let them inspire you, and then listen to your dreams as you would to a child speaking in earnest. Be merciful to them as they try to express themselves.
Take your time, and write them down in a way that is easy to remember, powerful to repeat. Or if there are too many, try putting them into meaningful word pictures that can be invoked by a phrase, perhaps like a mantra, or maybe just a simple affirmation. For example, here are a few I wrote for myself:
I want to channel the living beauty
of my lovely world
in words and stories that inspire connection
I want to be free, to have time
to give myself, body and breath
in relationship with my beautiful land
to put words to her ever-flowing thought
shared with me, confided,
til not one of her precious thoughts goes unheard
I want to reach others
I want to see her light in others’ eyes
and have the joy of knowing she is seen in mine
I want this life, this work
to radiate wellness, healing, blessing
to transcend age, brokenness, human constraints
I want to see it realized in the here and now
I want to begin today
When you reconnect with your dreams, your sacred truths will emerge. It can be a first step to living as the person you were meant to be. So what are your sacred truths? Who were you born to be? Are you ready to begin today?