As a young girl, I loved to read. I read Nancy Drew novels, The Little House on the Prairie, and I’m sure I would have read Harry Potter if he and his friends had been around. However, for most of my adult life, I was too busy to read fiction. Working full time. Driving kids to baseball, soccer, choir, and piano lessons. Grocery shopping. Cooking. Cleaning. “Who has time to sit down and read a book for pleasure? If I’m going to read, it should be to learn.” That was my mindset, a natural outcome of the Protestant work ethic so ingrained in my being. Most of the books on my shelves were highlighted and starred so that I could reference them again.
Then about 12 years ago, I was participating in a life coach training program and was assigned to a partner. Our task was to coach one another. During one of our sessions, this partner told the most amazing story from her life, and I said, “You should write a book!” She replied, “I did. I wrote four of them.” Needless to say, I devoured all of the books by Stephanie Kane. I was mesmerized by the characters, context, conflict, and conclusions. My husband Pete laughed as he watched me underline and star portions of the text. (Old habits are hard to break.) And I remember saying to him one day, “Life is better with fiction.”
In our weekly coaching sessions, Stephanie helped me tell my own life story – to view the characters in new ways, to see the humor along with the tragedy. Stephanie helped me look for the metaphors and symbolism in the experiences I was having each day, and she reminded me how story helps us see the world in new ways. Together, she and I created a whole new story – one of overlapping experiences and meaningful friendship. None of this was fiction; it was all very real. But reading fiction opened my mind to the power of story in the mundane, practical aspects of life.
This month, we will explore the role of story in our individual lives, our Unitarian Universalist faith, our country and world. And together, we will continue to write the next chapter of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Boulder as we deepen faith, live well and enact justice.
Love to each of you,