Swami Tyagananda, the head monk of the Vedanta Society of Boston was our invited guest speaker for the third Foundation Day celebration of the Vedanta Society of Cleveland this weekend. His two lectures were titled “Do you remember?” (Friday) and “Keeper of our Stories” (Saturday). While I will share more about the ‘remembrance’ lecture at a later date, I will share a few thoughts on today’s talk.
In most cases, if we want to truly learn about the childhood of a friend or family member, it is best to ask their mother(s), yes? The mother is one individual who is a natural ‘keeper of our stories’. Their memory bank is full of our stumbles, our successes, our natural preferences our aptitudes, and much more. And they have a plethora of stories connected with the many phases of our life.
It is not necessary that the mother, the ‘keeper of stories’, be the birth mother. Indeed, in many cases, this is not the case. In many cases, the ‘keeper’ may initially be the birth mother, but then transition to a different ‘mother’ or even a ‘father’ at some stage in our lives. If were are truly fortunate, there may even be multiple ‘story keepers’ of our lives.
What may be important for our mental and spiritual health is to ask the ‘keeper’, at some stage in our lives, to tell us our own stories. It can create many wonderful moments of awareness, growth and add depth to relationships. Story-telling and listening can begin with as simple a question as – tell me a story about when I was in middle school? Do it sooner than later, because once the keeper’s gone, the stories will go with them…
There comes a stage in our lives when we, the children, have an opportunity to become ‘keepers of our parents stories’. A decade ago, on a trip to India, I happened to ‘interview’ my mother’s mother about the stories of her childhood, and my mother’s childhood. Grandma was a wonderful story-teller! As a result, that forty-five minute video has become one of the most cherished records in the family vault.
When our parents enter their second childhood, we have yet another opportunity to become ‘story keepers’. It gives us an opportunity to wonder – what were our mothers (or fathers) really like as children? How much do we know about their dreams, fears, best friends, food and clothing preferences when they were in kindergarten? In middle school? In high school? And so on…
The Swami extended a dual invitation to us today – to learn about our stories from those who keep them for us, and to become the keeper of stories of those who once kept ours. I share that invitation with you. Share some stories. Be a keeper and a giver. It’s a great way to celebrate life.
Join our weekly twitter chat held Sunday May 14th, 2017 with the #SpiritChat community. Bring your stories to share about your childhood, and the ones who kept them. Namaste.