Come and see

At the beginning of this month I published a Resource List for an Evolving Faith. This list was (one of) the concluding posts on a series about my faith.

So much of where I've landed in that journey remains unwritten because how do you give words to something that feels beyond creed and doctrine?

I feel like I've fallen into the river of life/river of God/Ground of Being that runs beneath it all and there's barely language for the territory I find myself in.

I've tried to give language to the crisis that landed me in that river but to describe where I am right now is a lot of effort to articulate. It's freedom from fear, it's beauty, it's good news, it's love, it's restorative and life-sustaining relationship and that's about all I can manage right now.

This is not a post about my faith but about the challenges of communicating ideas and experiences, and my insatiable drive to do so in spite of the difficulty.

It's the same when talking about parenting or homeschool philosophy, a three part post I just wrapped up. How do you articulate a living, growing thing? As soon as you put words around it, you've made an artifact, you've taken a freeze frame of the experience, which is not the same as the experience itself.

It's like comparing the image of a waterfall where everything is in stop-motion, each water droplet suspended, with an actual waterfall where everything keeps moving. That water droplet, sparkling in sunlight in the freeze frame photo, is already down the river. By the time you see the photo, that "particle" of water is in a deep mountain lake, a shallow stream bed, evaporated into cloud. You get the idea.

I struggle to give words to our interest-led, relationship-focused, and self-directed learning. (You'd think I'd figure this out after 14 years!)

It's not a formula, a curriculum, a defined scope and sequence. It's as organic as any relationship. Like water in the hydrological cycle, how we homeschool is governed by some foundational principles but it's always in motion, always emerging and becoming.

So why do we take a photo of the waterfall? To remember for sure, but also to invite people into the experience, in as much as we are able.

That's what I'm attempting to do with my writing. To be sure, I use writing as a path to some kind of clarity, like intellectual handholds on the journey of life, but I'm also trying to create an invitation to "come and see". Experience this.

We don't have the opportunity, in this one and precious life, to participate in all human experience (of course we don't want to either, because some are very terrible, just the good ones please). So we rely on others to tell their stories. And when we do find ourselves in terrible circumstances it's other people's stories that help us get through.

Stories are our best attempt at inviting someone into the experience of our lives.

I'm not a stellar storyteller (say that fast five times). My writing feels inadequate to the task. As much as I want to tell a story I also need to organize and process the ideas behind the experiences, dig into the principles and philosophy. Explore the head behind the heart, so to speak.

I would actually like to be an honest-to-goodness philosopher with all the academic training that implies. I don't know if that's in the cards for me. But in the meantime I have a life experience from which to write. And lots of podcasts, online courses, local lectures, and even the occasional philosophy book to scratch that insistent truth-seeking itch.

I don't know exactly how to get where I want to go but I keep showing up to write the words and fumble my way through.

The podcast I'm producing at Patreon is another expression of this work, another means for story telling and digging into ideas.

When I sat down to write this post, a couple days back, it was going to be a simple introduction to specific interviews posted there. I honestly don't know how it evolved into this. But I guess this is what wanted and needed to be written. (I'll introduce those interviews in my next posts.)

My Patreon podcast is the telling of other people's stories and experiences, around themes that resonate with my own life in some way. And it is that sliver of shared experience that opens a door, inviting me, and you, into the particularities of someone else's life.

What a gift.

And what we see, when we're given the opportunity and are willing to receive someone's story, are the similarities of fundamental core needs that drive our experiences, even if our values, beliefs, and choices are different. The intimate is the universal.

How do we start with such similar needs and end up, as individuals and a species, with such vastly different practices and beliefs for how to have those needs met? I'm not even attempting to answer that question! Here or on the podcast. I'm just working at telling the stories that help make the connections.

Same kind of different as me. (Totally stealing that movie title.)

We are the story of what it means to be human. You. Me. Us. I tell my itsy-bitsy story here on the blog and I fumble my way through organizing the motivating principles of my life into some kind of coherence.

And now I interview other people about their stories on my Patreon podcast. We experience resonance with bits of our own story and we are introduced to new ideas and experiences. We broaden and expand, we draw near and engage.

Come and see. Take a hike with me to the waterfall.

Photos in this post are from a hike this August. If you're a local interested in this hike see this journal entry at Outsideways for location, distance, etc.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

« The October homeschool update (with a wee bit of parenting melancholy, philosophy, and practice), part 3
Spiritual Direction, Art as Spiritual Practice & Female Friendship »
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