| Anne Williamson | 

I am not the poster child for simple living. I don’t live in a tiny house in the woods off the grid. I don’t raise livestock, darn socks or knit. I enjoy eating out, and many nights, thank g/God for TV dinners. We own two cars and more stuff than we need.

This does not mean I don’t strive to live simpler. Over a span of 15 years, I have made significant changes in the way I live and interact with “stuff.” I started off making these changes out of concern for my fellow humans and our planet. I kept making changes because I found peace in doing so.

This peace has come not with any sort of “arrival” but through the journey of gradually eliminating some things so that other things may speak more freely, may take up more space, in my life....

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| Anne Williamson |

All forgiveness involves grief… I will never know what it feels like to be a boy unconditionally loved by his father. The story of our marriage will never be a fairy tale again. I have broken people I love with my own brokenness. Those 10 years, I’ll never get those back. 

This is what makes forgiveness so hard. It’s also what makes it sticky. Our grief deserves space; we must give it time. And yet, hold on too long and you begin to identify with… no, as it. The grief becomes entangled in your self – shaping the stories you tell, the life you create.

My favorite definition of forgiveness comes from a 1990 guest on The Oprah Winfrey show named Harold. Paraphrasing him, Oprah says, “Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.” It’s not condoning or excusing; it’s accepting what was, and even what currently is…

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| Anne Williamson |

Recently, for an article coming out in October on WAYfinding, I was asked this question, "What's your ultimate goal?" My response: 

For me, one of the most interesting and important questions in life is: To what do you live faithfully?  Because, we all live faithfully to something. As theologian Paul Tillich would say, “We all have an Ultimate Concern.” You would think this would be a question we’d be encouraged to explore in school, at work, at home – since it impacts everything we do – but it’s generally not. Often, our Ultimate Concern develops and resides in our subconscious alone.  For me, this is no good. Our Ultimate Concern, that to which we live faithfully, needs to be drawn out and evaluated: Is it what you thought? Is it worthy of your whole life?

On a deep level, this is the point of WAYfinding: to help people discover an Ultimate Concern worthy of their whole life. And then, to help them learn to live faithfully to that Concern everyday, to learn to listen to it. This, to me, is faith, and it requires a kind of bravery and permission beyond the mandatory checking of certain belief boxes.

This, then, is why, in WAYfinding, our lens, our shared commitment, is not a statement of beliefs but a process. ...

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| Jim Thorne | 

"The marvelous thing about learning from a story is that the story never ends, so our learning from it need not end either." - Parker Palmer

While at lunch with an acquaintance, he brought me up short with this question: “So, Jim, at your core, what are your deepest held beliefs and values and how do they influence your daily activities?” My first thought was, “Gosh, I thought this was just a friendly lunch.” My second thought was, “What a great question.”

In responding to the question, I realized it was not immediately clear to me what my core beliefs and values were. This was a wake-up call. I had a good sense of how I lived my life, but I found clearly articulating my beliefs and values difficult. I thought, “If they’re not clear to me, then they’re not fully influencing my daily activities.” My curiosity was awakened. ...

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| Carolyn Lesmeister |

"Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul's weather." - Martha Graham

Our bodies tell our stories.

Old or young, large or small, wrinkled or taut; stretch-marked or scarred, they say something about who we are and what we’ve experienced.

Even more than physical characteristics that we may or may not be able to control, what we do with our bodies communicates powerful messages not only to the people around us, but also to our very own selves.

Have you ever paid attention to how you respond physically to different emotions?...

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| Anne Williamson |

We are story-telling creatures. We tell our stories at length in books and film, and in short vignettes on Facebook and Instagram. We ask our roommates - aged 2 to 102 - to tell us the stories of their day, to listen as we share ours. We shout our stories, whisper them, sing them, photograph them, pray them. And, not just our own: we love telling the stories of others too. 

All these stories we tell, we hear, they swirl around us. Are they also a part of us? Becoming so? What pieces of the stories we tell speak to the unspoken stories, beliefs, inside? What pieces of the stories we hear become the foundations of our new "unspokens"?

Because in a lifetime of telling stories, it is the unspoken ones that matter most. ...

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In the faith world, this is a week for powerful stories. Christians will tell and hear of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. It will remind them hate never has the final word, and peace, wholeness, is possible. Jews will begin the Passover celebration. They'll recount the story of their ancestors' deliverance from slavery in Egypt, as well as ongoing struggles against tyranny - both external and internal. They'll hear the story and remember freedom need not be a mere dream.     

These are big stories, meaningful. Stories that have been at the heart of Western cultures for centuries. They inspire us. Confuse us. Won't leave us alone - often, even when we're intentionally trying to leave them behind. They're a part of our histories, families, secular and sacred rituals, literature and movies. They are stories in which people all over the world have faith.  

Yet, they are stories about which our beliefs differ. Outside the traditions, and within them, we hear these stories and interpret them differently, allow them different places of meaning in our lives. What are we to make of this? Are we to assume some of us have it "right" and others "wrong"? Namely, me, I have it right, and you, you have it wrong. Or, can we imagine a different way? Can we allow each other different versions of the s/Story, different meanings, as long as those meanings soak in love? As long as they move us to live deeper and love better than we did yesterday. Can we begin to define faithfulness this way? 

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WAYfinding is both a growing online community, through this blog, and a "bricks and mortar" community in Indianapolis. For the last two weeks, the latter has been discussing the importance of story. Namely, in taking the time to detail and reflect on our life story(ies) thus far, its lessons, patterns and wisdom can arise.   

The importance of such work was echoed beautifully in a NPR Here & Now story last week titled "Restarting Life Out From Under Polio's Shadow." In it, Gail Caldwell thoughtfully reflects on how a surgery in her 50s that greatly improved a limp she'd had from polio since 6 months of age challenged her story.   

LEARN, then let's reflect and LOVE together and keep LISTENing...

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