This reflection came out of a special weekend in Green Lake, Wisconsin with my fellow “Story Leaders.” It is a joy and honour to work with these people in the Your Story Matters and Memoir Masterclass community, led by Leslie Leyland Fields. Ours was a sacred time together.
Sunday morning beams an exquisite brightness over the lake, pulling me out the back door of the Wisconsin guest house and into the dappled gold under the trees. Seventeen of us have gathered here in Green Lake from all over the world, from seventeen walks of life, drawn together by a shared vision and the common work of writing our stories.
Everywhere I step there is an abundance of acorns. Heaps of them beneath the towering oaks, in the cracks of the dock, crushed on the driveway, or half buried in the ground beneath the falling leaves. The sun glints off the water, dazzling my eyes, turning them downward. The season of showy fruit has passed, and now the seeds emerge, a humble, unremarkable brown. Without fragrance, without colour. Just the shades of earth and faded living matter given over to a slow decay. But there is unmistakable sweetness here. This is the time of things unseen.
I wander over to one of the oaks whose bark is deeply furrowed with age, and lower myself to the ground beside it. Hundreds of acorns lie within reach of my hands, smooth and plump with their jaunty little caps. The squirrels have already gotten to many of them. I lean into the strength of the oak’s trunk, surrounded by this litany of surrender and faith. For winter is coming, but the tree must give up its treasure in order to regenerate.
The acorns, all these are professions of faith: I believe in the beauty of descent. I believe in the mystery of death. I believe in the power of the promised seed. I believe in good soil, cursed as this earth may be. I believe in new life.
One little acorn crashes into the leaves near the fire pit. Does anyone notice so slight a dent in the earth’s crust? But I hear it—the fall of a single seed.
Lifting one acorn in my hand, I hold an entire world. Hidden in the grain is a tightly pressed message of life, the word of creation itself, the word of the third day.
Then I feel the weight of it—here is one story.
The wind stirs the branches high above, and the phrases fall into my mind like the murmuring of a creed: I believe in the power of a story. I believe in the Spirit’s pollination of our deep places. I believe in the beauty of truth told. I believe in the vitality of grace spoken.
I believe in the power of stories released, though it is terrifying to let them go, small as they are, to scatter in the wind. I believe in good soil, barren and waiting for just the right seed to fall into its cracks and make a home there. I believe the story must break open to reveal and regenerate the life within. I hear it—the fall of a single story.
And suddenly I see them, all our stories, the fruit of our patient and painful labour, given as offerings, given in surrender, given in faith, not in our own power, but as seeds in the hands of the Sower. These stories—your stories—have already taken root in the hungry cracks of my soul, pushing up hopeful and healing and surprising and green.
This earth is full of them, a humble, remarkable glory.
Are you wondering if your story matters? May I recommend Leslie’s book? These pages have brought me insight, healing, and community. “There is no part of human experience not worthy of attention, illumination, and restoration.” (Leslie Leyland Fields)