Last night, my husband and I had the best time sharing our stories of meaningful places with our dear friends who invited us for dessert. They were such a blessing to us because they listened.
They didn’t just listen the way you normally think about listening–with polite nods and smiles and then a moving on to the next topic or their own stories. No, they listened. They listened until all the juice of my story was wrung out.
They listened with curiosity, rapt attention (rapt means completely fascinated), and patience. I realize in the telling of my story of place what a profound act of love it is to listen to other people like this.
Now I know what it feels like to be loved through listening like this. Now I know how to listen like this. Rapt attention means nothing else matters in that moment but this story, these words, this meaning, this person. Nothing else matters but what they must communicate and why.
I shared all about my childhood on Little Hunting Creek, and my husband and the other husband actually drove back to my house to get the panoramic picture, taken in the 90’s, of my backyard that my parents recently mailed to me.
They asked questions; they celebrated with me; they mourned with me since it’s a time gone by; and they rejoiced about closure. My husband shared his own story of place–White Lake–and they listened with the same rapt attention.
Next time, I pray and hope I can listen to their stories of place with that same kind of love.
Telling stories of place–those physical locations that shaped you and why–felt so bonding, satisfying, and important. What did this place mean to me? How did it contribute to my sense of self and my purpose? Are there sites I should return to–like Charlottesville or Ft. Lewis–to think more carefully about what this location meant? Do I need others to celebrate, mourn, rejoice? Do I just need to tell the story for some unknown reason that may make itself evident in the telling?
My friend says, “I’ll go to Charlottesville with you. Whatever you need.”
(I realize that if you begin to tell stories of place, you might want to start saving funds for road trips!)
When you gather with friends, ask, “What places shaped you and why? Tell us about your childhood places!” Then listen with rapt attention. You’ll will learn beautiful things about others and yourselves.
And don’t forget to bring pictures.