To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative

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To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative

  1. 1. To Tell the Sacred Tale: Spiritual Direction and Narrative Janet K. Ruffing, RSM 2009
  2. 2. Stories Orient us, guide us <ul><li>Through the available stories in our families, religious tradition, culture, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Can you identify one or two such stories that help you navigate life? That tell you a new kind of truth you want to hold on to? </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Our Stories </li></ul><ul><li>It is our stories </li></ul><ul><li>our sacred, chaotic, blessed stories, </li></ul><ul><li>our awe-drenched, doubting, joyous stories: </li></ul><ul><li>it is our stories </li></ul><ul><li>that are the stones </li></ul><ul><li>of God’s language </li></ul><ul><li>on the rocky, jagged radiant </li></ul><ul><li>path of life. </li></ul><ul><li>It is the holy listener </li></ul><ul><li>who helps arrange these stones </li></ul><ul><li>into cairns </li></ul><ul><li>which point the way to God’s desire for our lives </li></ul><ul><li>and </li></ul><ul><li>God’s desire for our every moment. </li></ul><ul><li>The cairns, if patiently balanced, </li></ul><ul><li>uneven though they be, </li></ul><ul><li>if patiently balanced, </li></ul><ul><li>can point the way to heaven. </li></ul><ul><li>Heaven, after all, </li></ul><ul><li>is making God-serving meaning of our stories </li></ul><ul><li>on this rocky, jagged, radiant </li></ul><ul><li>path of life. </li></ul><ul><li>--Jennifer Hoffman </li></ul>
  4. 4. DIRECTEES’ STORIES <ul><li>WHAT HAPPENED? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>WHAT STORY AM I LIVING? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WHAT STORY HAVE I FALLEN INTO? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>PRAYER = LISTENING TO GOD TELL ME MY STORY </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. DIRECTEE’S STORY <ul><li>WHAT IT MEANS </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IMPLICATIONS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>COMMITMENT </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SUBSEQUENT ACTIONS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>LIVING IN A CERTAIN WAY </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. SPIRITUAL DIRECTION AS NARRATIVE PROCESS <ul><li>1- MANY CULTURES IN THE WORLD ARE STILL ORAL CULTURES OF STORIES, PROVERBS, ETC. THESE TRANSMIT WISDOM. </li></ul><ul><li>THEY USE SCRIPTURE SIMILARLY. </li></ul>
  7. 7. 2. Post Modern Context <ul><li>GREATER NEED TO TELL PERSONAL STORY </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Aware of Many Possible Stories </li></ul></ul><ul><li>FRAGMENTATION OF IDENTITY WITH LOSS OF META-NARRATIVES </li></ul><ul><li>MORE MODELS FOR SILENT VOICES </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Women </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnic Minorities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hybrid and Multiple Identities, etc. </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. David Tracy “On Naming the Present ” <ul><li>Anti-Moderns </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Those who await the return of the traditional and communal self in some “pure” tradition from the past </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Moderns </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sense of self as independent, individual agents, pluralistic-democratic style,myth of science </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>PostModerns </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>See through myth of progress, violence of 20 th century, and place “hope of the present in otherness and difference” </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Who is Naming the Present? <ul><li>The “we” of western Europe and North America </li></ul><ul><li>This “we” does not yet include the “other” </li></ul><ul><li>This “other” is often a “projected other” from our own point of view </li></ul><ul><li>However, there is no longer a center with margins. There are many centers. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Post Modern, cont. <ul><li>GREATER FREEDOM TO CHOOSE AMONG VARIOUS STORIES FROM WHICH TO CREATE ONE’S OWN </li></ul><ul><li>CONFLICT AMONG AVAILABLE STORIES REQUIRES DISCERNMENT OF STORIES </li></ul>
  11. 11. 3- SKILL IN SPIRITUAL DIRECTION <ul><li>ATTENTION TO NARRATIVE RELATES TO: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CHARACTER, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>AGENCY, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MEANING-MAKING </li></ul></ul><ul><li>A WAY INTO WORLD VIEW, SENSE OF SELF </li></ul><ul><li>MOVE BEYOND MICRO SKILLS </li></ul><ul><li>INTERPRETS EVENTS IN A LARGER CONTEXT OF THE LIFE STORY </li></ul>
  12. 12. ORAL SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY <ul><li>TOLD FROM PRESENT MOMENT </li></ul><ul><li>FORMED AND REFORMING </li></ul><ul><li>COHERENCE </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IDENTITY OVER TIME </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DISCONTINUITY </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SOMETHING DISRUPTS WHICH REQUIRES A MORE COMPREHENSIVE, COHESIVE, INTEGRAL STORY </li></ul></ul><ul><li>DEGREES OF CONSCIOUSNESS </li></ul>
  13. 13. TELLING THE SACRED TALE <ul><li>A Safe Place </li></ul><ul><li>To Tell the Story of Self and God </li></ul><ul><li>Based on Experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Particular/Unique yet Use Available Stories </li></ul><ul><li>Created in Dialogue </li></ul><ul><li>Affected by Director </li></ul><ul><li>Focused on Religious Experience and Its Implications </li></ul><ul><li>Listened into Speech Tentatively over TIME </li></ul>
  14. 14. Effects of Narrative Activity: Nurtures Spiritual Identity <ul><li>Establishes the person’s pervasive attitude toward God and other people. </li></ul><ul><li>Enables reliving significant experience with greater appreciation for God’s activity in one’s life </li></ul><ul><li>Engenders an on-going sensitivity to God’s activity </li></ul><ul><li>Precipitates moral struggle in response </li></ul><ul><li>Retell key stories until it is integrated </li></ul>
  15. 15. Jack Shea describes the contemporary emergence of revelatory experiences of mystery <ul><li>There is a relationship to the Mystery of life. </li></ul><ul><li>This Mystery communicates meanings about the nature of the relationship. </li></ul><ul><li>This meaning is initially formulated and then pondered, acted on, rephrased, re-pondered, reacted on, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>The meaning that is received is related to the conflicts, questions and needs of the people involved. </li></ul><ul><li>Although there is an enshrined religious vocabulary to talk about the felt perception of these experiences, it is seldom used. This last element is a special characteristic of contemporary revelation‑faith experiences. </li></ul>
  16. 16. OTHER FEATURES <ul><li>SELECTIVE EPISODES </li></ul><ul><li>PATTERN </li></ul><ul><li>CENTRAL METAPHOR OF THE SELF </li></ul><ul><li>OFTEN OMITS WHAT DOESN’T FIT </li></ul><ul><li>RUPTURES/SURPRISES/NEW EXPERIENCES HAPPEN </li></ul><ul><li>EPISODIC AND SPONTANEOUS </li></ul><ul><li>TOLD FROM PRESENT VIEW-POINT </li></ul><ul><li>DEVELOPS A NEW PATTERN/ BETTER METAPHOR </li></ul><ul><li>CREATES A MORE ADEQUATE STORY </li></ul>
  17. 17. DISCERNMENT OF STORIES <ul><li>GENDER </li></ul><ul><li>ETHNICITY </li></ul><ul><li>FAMILY </li></ul><ul><li>SEXUAL ORIENTATION </li></ul><ul><li>GEOGRAPHY/ECOLOGY </li></ul><ul><li>DOMINANT CULTURE (ELITE, CONSUMER, DEMOCRATIC, ETC.) </li></ul><ul><li>SUBORDINATE CULTURE (INDIGENOUS, RURAL, MINORITY) </li></ul><ul><li>REGIONAL CULTURE (URBAN/ RURAL/ COASTAL, ISLAND, MAINLAND) </li></ul><ul><li>POPULAR CULTURE (TV, FILM, MEDIA) </li></ul><ul><li>ELITE CULTURE (THEATER, LITERARY) </li></ul><ul><li>FAITH CULTURE </li></ul><ul><li>INTERFAITH </li></ul><ul><li>GLOBAL AWARENESS </li></ul>
  18. 18. DISCERNMENT OF STORIES <ul><li>CONFLICTS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SECULAR VS SACRED </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>POSTMODERN </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>MODERN </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>PRE-MODERN </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>SACRED VS SACRED </li></ul></ul><ul><li>REQUIRES AN EDUCATION IN ALTERNATIVE STORIES </li></ul>
  19. 19. REGISTERS OF THE SELF <ul><li>ECOLOGICAL SELF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SELF VIS A VIS PHYSICAL SURROUND </li></ul></ul><ul><li>INTERPERSONAL SELF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>UNREFLECTIVE CONNECTION WITH ANOTHER PERSON </li></ul></ul><ul><li>EXTENDED SELF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AWARE OF EXISTING BEYOND PRESENT MOMENT. HAS EXPERIENCES, DOES THINGS </li></ul></ul><ul><li>PRIVATE SELF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>AWARE OF FEELINGS AND THOUGHTS UNIQUE TO ONESELF THAT CANNOT BE KNOWN WITHOUT DISCLOSING </li></ul></ul><ul><li>CONCEPTUAL SELF </li></ul><ul><ul><li>SOCIAL ROLES, TRAITS, THEORIES OF BODY-MIND </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ULRIC NEISSER </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Director’s Response to Directee’s Story <ul><li>Eliciting the “unsaid” </li></ul><ul><li>Comment on story elements </li></ul><ul><li>Focuses on what is “there” </li></ul><ul><li>Listens for narratives that reveal a maturing relationship with God or moving away from God. </li></ul><ul><li>Patience in helping directees tell a subtle story: reverent, attentive, listening </li></ul>
  21. 21. Cont. <ul><li>Pays attention to the plot. </li></ul><ul><li>Where is this story going? </li></ul><ul><li>Relates the narrative to the tradition </li></ul><ul><li>How is this a “gospel” story like or </li></ul><ul><li>unlike other models of holiness </li></ul><ul><li>in the tradition? </li></ul><ul><li>Maybe even tell a related story? </li></ul>

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