I was at a waterpark over Labor Day weekend with my family. I ended up walking behind a man and was quite mesmerized by the inked image etched on the left hand corner of his back. The simple image completely captured my imagination. It was a child, a little girl with her back to me holding hands with a taller, clearly distinguishable, Mickey Mouse figure. Below was a banner that read something like “Addison you will be with Mickey forever.” I almost walked into him as he paused to hold the door open for me. I couldn’t help myself I just blurted out, “I’m admiring your tattoo…” Then he took me on an adventure that chilled my blood and made the little hairs on my skin stand up. No I wasn’t frightened by what he told me next, I was completely astonished and overwhelmed with emotion. This silver haired man with fair skin peeled off his sunglasses and shared with me his story of his granddaughter whose little body could no longer bear the trauma of repeated seizures and who succumbed a few months before. And oh, that she adored Mickey Mouse and was buried with all her Mickey Mouse dolls.
I was astonished that I felt so deeply for that man and his heart in that moment. Astonished that in just sharing a 2 minute long story I felt so close to his grieving grandfather; felt his pain, felt his sorrow and felt his joyful rest that she now rested in peace. Despite external differences of gender and race and age, and place of origin and experiences and memories and life journeys, we connected. the divine in him and the divine in me connected; his dignity and my dignity respected; that which we seek and serve in all persons was blindingly obvious. I walked away wondering “Why don’t we share our stories more?”
What if each of us saw in each other, beyond what we believe is real, to what is truly real- that piece of the divine deeply embedded in our DNA? And when we see that, we feel free to simply, yet powerfully share our stories? I believe there would be more opened hearts for loving, opened hands for shaking, opened arms for embracing, opened doors for welcoming, opened eyes for seeing and opened minds for understanding. All that, just by sharing our stories!
Like the man in the water park, what stories do you have etched on your skin ready for the world to read?
“Words kill, words give life; They’re either poison or fruit- you choose.” (Proverbs 18)
“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” (Rumi)