Sacred Moments in Story Telling

My job involves getting to hear lots of wonderful stories. Interviews with people who have had their lives changed in some way are always enjoyable to do, and remind me of the wonderful power of God to bring about change in people’s lives.

Every now and then, an interview becomes something more than an interview. It becomes a sacred moment. Something holy happens, just through the process of talking, of drawing out stories, and of sharing.

The video above was made for our Mother’s Day worship service, and was part of a sermon series on the fruit of the spirit. So we interviewed people about their moms who exhibited the fruit of love, joy, or peace.

All the interviews were wonderful, but the final one took on a special poignance. Ann, the mother, is dying.

I hit record on my camera, looked up at her, and asked, “Tell me, Ann, how does one cultivate joy in their life?” It was a good starter question, the kind of question that someone can go shallow on or go as deeply into as they like. First questions rarely yield great responses. It usually takes a little while for someone to loosen up and get used to talking.

But for Ann, her response came easily. I needed very few questions to coax pearls of wisdom from her. She spoke very deliberately, with long, thoughtful pauses. The four of us listening (her son, husband, and a hospice nurse were all just off camera) held our collective breath. She spoke of life lessons, of what’s really important, of how to find, keep, and give joy. All the moms did, but for Ann, there was a certain determination in her response.

I came to realize that there was more going on than just an interview. This was, in a sense, like a last will and testament. As her husband and son listened in, she was telling them, and anyone who would listen, what the keys are to true joy, that we need to love one another, no matter what. She was saying that she had no regrets about her life, that she had been blessed beyond measure. She said that there was no way she could ever be bitter about anything, because God had given her so much. Her voice cracked and she started to cry as she talked about the death of her own mother, and she told us how blessed she was to have such great parents. She said her tears throughout the interview were tears of joy, not sadness.

Something sacred happened in that interview. For me to be there and be a part of it was a gift, and a rare privilege that I didn’t deserve. It was so raw, so intimate, so heartfelt, and I was a nobody, someone she had never met, sitting in her living room. But she opened up freely, and trusted me enough to be transparent with me.

The interviews were edited down drastically. I’m not sure the edited piece captures what really happened in that interview, though it does give a glimpse. But that’s okay. Ann wasn’t really talking to me. The people she was talking to were sitting with us in that room. They just needed someone to come ask the questions she was longing to have asked.