Breaking stories like bread.
This past fall, I listened to a brief lecture by amazing Chicago theater-maker Nate Allen. I wrote for pages and pages in my journal on my reactions to his thoughts on catharsis, humanity, and the essence of storytelling. It was from him that I first considered the sacrament of story. The idea that story is something we break and share together. It’s something worth being in communion over.
This past weekend, with the flurry of activity in my home that accompanies every Dream Factory Workshop, I reconsidered the concept of viewing stories as a type of sacrament. As a person of deep and meaningful faith, I know sacraments to be holy. Considered. Ritualistic. When a church comes together to witness the sacrament of baptism, or communion, we are newly bonded in a shared expression of our unity, with Christ and with each other. There is nothing light, or casual, or commonplace about it. We know what it is like to regard something as holy, and set apart.
The best stories aren’t told on a platform, or in a best-selling novel, or on a podcast. The best stories are shared in living rooms, in cramped car rides, in sleeping bags late at night. They’re broken with grace over the dining room table and spilled into overfilling glasses. There’s something gritty and honest about breaking stories face to face, hand to hand.
The sacrament of story drives home the significance of humanity. The fact that every life, every moment matters. One big theme this weekend that I’ve been sharing with the girls is the idea that our weight matters. The pebbles of our everyday moments and experiences are piled on top of each other in big, giant heaps of mattering. Viewing those stories as sacrament means viewing them as important. It’s unapologetic. It’s holy. It’s declaring to the world that these crumbs of my life have meaning and yet I trust you with them.
Perhaps this is what Christ meant when He called us to a life of hospitality. Hosting each other’s lives, each other’s moments, each other’s stories. Always making room at our table for one another. Breaking stories, like bread, to nourish and feed us. Here, let me hold the crumbs of your life too. Let’s eat at the same table. Let’s share this world together.
The Dream Factory Workshop works because it isn’t a writing workshop, although we all did plenty of writing. It’s not a photography workshop, although we experienced dozens upon dozens of beautiful moments to photograph. It’s a workshop about living. About telling and listening. About being hospitable and being human and what those two mean together.
It’s something I fail at all the time, both this past weekend and in every aspect of my life. But it’s also something to strive and fail for. And I think that’s something we learned together this week.
The colorful assortment of iPhone photos to follow in no way capture the beauty of this weekend, but they will hopefully give you a small glimpse into some of the everyday adventures we embarked on together. Know that there were way too many giggles, inside jokes, Reese’s Cups, wide eyes, and Taylor Swift songs to ever fit in a single bog post. But our voices were heard and our hearts were made stronger and I think, in the end, that’s what makes these days worth it.
P.S. Some of these photos were taken by Emily or Rachel. Thanks, girls, for sharing with me!
P.P.S. There’s already been questions asked about the next Dream Factory Workshop. I don’t have any plans yet, but if I do plan another I’ll be looking at late 2017 or 2018 in Chicago. Any interest?