“When we hear each other’s stories, we begin to understand ourselves better and feel less alone. … When I tell my stories, it gives others permission to tell their own.” — Alma For Ada, IN SWEET COMPANY: CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE
When I was six years old I wrote the following poem:
I wish I were a lion,
The king of all the beasts.
I’d have a great big party
And invite everyone to the feast.
Not a very profound piece of work, I grant you, but one that unleashed undreamed of possibilities in the heart of this first grader. Writing that poem made me feel big. It was fun to stretch my mind beyond the banality of Dick, Jane, and Spot, but it was grand to create something beautiful, to give an idea, a feeling, Life! When Mrs. Matimo asked me to read my poem to the rest of the class, I was on top of the world.
Years later, I was listening to a friend eagerly share an insight she hoped would salvage a long ailing mother-daughter relationship, I came to understand how important it is to share our stories. My friend was celebrating her hard won clarity, infused with the taste of omnipotence that comes to all sincere seekers when we touch the hand of Truth. As I listened to her talk, my little poem leapt out from some long untenanted chamber of my mind and I was aware that time had conferred it with new meaning: I understood that when an “oracle” appears — when we gain insight into ourselves — we momentarily grow lionhearted, vested with a glint of uncommon courage, a greater willingness to reign over our inner beasts. Thus empowered, we feel hopeful, jubilant, and profoundly grateful. Then, like my friend with her new mother-view, we cannot help but want to celebrate this expansion of consciousness with others.
That kind of celebration is what spurred me to become a writer. I offer no panacea for the ills of mankind, just an invitation to my “feast,” to those brief moments of clarity and exaltation that, on occasion, turn this very little lamb into a lion.