Sunday, January 27, 2013

But what does it mean?

January 27, 2013

Dear friends,

“The stories about the people you met at Rehab are interesting,” a friend commented, “but I am waiting to hear what you have to share about your own experience.”

It was some time later before I realized that at the moment my friend made this comment I had heard what she said clearly enough, but I hadn’t understood at all what my friend meant to tell me. Actually, I had given her comment only casual passing attention until I began work on this week’s column.

THEN--pause. Long pause.

What is it with this story telling business?

What happens to me when I tell my story? And what happens to you when you read the stories I tell?

So far the stories are marked by a terrible simplicity. The first:

I went to the Rehab Center. I met a man who longed to go home, but who could not do so. He cried. I sat and listened to him cry.
Stripped to its essentials, that’s not much of a story. The second is little better.

I went to the Rehab Center. I met a woman who had lost a leg, but who applauded when I was able to walk unassisted across the dining room.
More stories may come (The Colonel and the Green Beans; Following Charley Brown, and others are on the drawing board). However, before these stories appear publicly, I want to ask something—actually, two things.

1) Do you learn something about yourself when you read the stories I share? If entertainment is the goal these stories are colossal failures.

2) What do you think I am telling you (however indirectly) about my experience and the change it brought in me? Why do I tell you? What relevance does my change have for you?

I want to try an experiment this week if you are willing to risk participating.

 Reread the last two blogs (Life in the Activities Room, and Courage to Celebrate). Then send an email to in which you think with me about these questions I have raised.

Thinking again how deeply I agree with John Donne: “Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.”

See you next week.



  1. I will re-read your blogs, Gay. But I have to say that especially your first blog, reminded me of the importance of: 1) being present. I firmly believe that presence is a gift: to myself and to others. and 2) doing what we can do where we are - even if we are in a bed and can physically do little. So it certainly had personal relevance. Plus, it reminded me that, when I was with my dad in the nursing home, I was present and that was all I could do. It touched me deeply.


  2. Dear Gay,

    I have to answer both questions in the same line of thought, namely that I learn about myself, even if I don't immediately internalize the complete message of what is happening within you. From reading and listening to the stories and experiences of others, I learn that these stories are of the sacred journey with God, and I also learn that my story is sacred and worthy as well, even the parts where I have fought and disobeyed God. And while I may not connect with a particular story at the time I read it, there is a lesson that will stick with me for the time that I can understand it.