Working in faith communities as chaplain, instructor, and now as priest I hear a lot of stories – amazing stories – but I’m sworn to secrecy so I can’t follow the time-tested advice, “Write what you know.” Okay, amor fati (love one’s fate); I’m resigned to the fact that my best material must go to the grave with me.
Meanwhile, I’m committed to the practice of “hearing a person into speech.”
Certainly there’s astonishing beauty in the narrative thread of each life. Christians talk about grace, Buddhists talk about impermanence, writers perhaps recognize it in the integrity of the narrative, and it all amounts to the same thing.
Every moment has both a lyrical quality of the present moment, a single tone like a temple bell or the clatter of dirty pans in the sink. It’s the telling detail, that at the same time is part of a larger grand narrative, that at its best leaves us speechless.