As the days grow shorter and the nights grow longer, as we watch the world around us
shed her summer colors for a Fall wardrobe, we cannot help but reflect on lives lived
and time that has gone by.
As the above prayer we have been using this Fall in worship reminds us, this time of
year has the rhythm of reflection. It is a time to look back at where we have been.
This is challenging for most of us because we live in a reactive society and have for
many years. Our language, whether it is political, social, or religious, calls for a reactive
response. Our advertising and media are designed to entice favorable reactions to
what they are “selling”. This is no accident. A reactive society is prone to manipulation
In contrast Christian spirituality has encouraged the development of a reflective life One
of the exercises that I have developed to set the stage for this is what a call Our Life
Story. Rarely are we given the opportunity or encouraged to take a reflective look on
our life story and yet it can be an incredible enlightening experience. I invite you to take
some time and try it out.
? You will need several sheets of paper (I suggest 1 for each decade of your life)
and a pen or pencil.
? Draw a horizontal line on each sheet (you are creating a timeline).
? Start by placing the “big” moments in your life (births, graduations, weddings,
celebrations, deaths, illnesses, accidents) in the appropriate place on the
timeline. If it was an event that marked a positive time in your live put it above
the line. If it was a dark or troubling event place it below.
? Next you can add in any other events that may have come to mind as you were
doing the above.
? As you do this, if there are words or emotions that surface write them down next
to the event).
? If you have not already done it lay your sheets in sequence so you can get the
full picture of where you have been.
? What are your first impressions? Jot them down.
? Are there patterns that you notice? Jot that down.
? Are there any Ah Ha’s? Jot them down. (The first thing I noticed when I first did
this was that my first 15 years of life were dominated by loss and death, both
personally and globally).
? Now go back and with each event (as best as you can) reflect on where God was
(or perhaps was not), or where you were in your faith journey at that time.
? At this point I suggest that you put it away for a couple of days. Get it back out
and look at again and repeat the above questions. Note any changes or new
observations you make.
? Get it back out a reflect on it over the course of the year make note of what you
see, feel, remember.
? Now that you have spent some time reflecting on your story are there insights
that you have gained about your life in the present?
I have yet to do this with people where they have not found the experience enlightening
and some have been profound. Enjoy. Perhaps together we can change the way we
look at the world and respond to the many voices that assail us.
? You can invite children to do this reflection by drawing pictures of special
events, memories, or people in their lives.
? Thanksgiving becomes a wonderful time to share some of these memories
or insights with the family. (I have come to realize that in many families,
adult children have no idea what their parents’ story was. This discovery
often comes at the time of the death of a parent when it is too late to
recapture that story ).