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The Examined Life

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 23 March 2014

“Each story reveals something which is sweet, rich or crunchy”.

This is how a reviewer describes the sometimes painful yet often positive thirty one chapters of stories which make up Stephen’s Grosz’s “The Examined Life – How we lose and find ourselves.”

Grosz, a psychotherapist uses the narratives of his patients. He works from anonymised case notes and writes of women and men telling their own heart rending and dislocated stories. He makes no judgements, preferring to quote Karen Blixen, “All sorrows can be borne if you put them into a story or tell a story about them”.

I thought of this recently as we listened to girls studying at Afhad University in Khartoum telling their stories. We heard of families destroyed by war and of struggles to find a way when all seemed lost. And as the stories flowed, we learned poignantly that listening in itself helps. The girls reminded us that hope is born not by denying the past, but by attending to their own personal story and then by doing something positive to make good change happen. From Sudan came a sweet, rich or crunchy message.

Lent is a time to explore our own stories. Hurts may surface and loss and longings may not be easily magicked away. However, the story telling will change us. As Grosz points out, “All change involves loss and yet life itself is change – we are always giving up something for something else”.

At St Martin’s, through our Lent journey of personal storytelling and questioning, we are discovering that God sometimes comes to us unexpectedly, showing us new purpose and new meaning. Later, the Easter story will announce that God has been there all along with us, loving us into life as our story takes shape and that indeed will be a surprise which is sweet, rich or crunchy.

Rt Revd Peter Hullah