16 Sept 2018
Amis letter 03
The memories that shape you
I am thinking of you!
Something about the Amis “group”. We have now grown to a group of 67 - from all over the globe: from Scotland to South Africa, from Canada to Australia. The age range is from the 20’s to the 80’s. I hope this is an encouragement - you are not alone.
If you prefer a typed version of the letter you could read it on the Amis website. If you’d rather to have a typed letter emailed to you, just send me a note on email@example.com.
Last week I encouraged you to think about your search. I wish we could have had a chat about that! Perhaps your longing is to speed Amis up!
A word or two about speed: Perhaps your longing is to speed Amis up. Imagine these 67 letters travelling by post – or even by ship! Imagine yourself fetching your letter from underneath a post-stone after it has travelled over the rought oceand. This is my romantic side getting the better of me. Well… here it is. Amis Letter 03 has arrived. We got so used to the speed of the internet and the speed of everything – you could even order a book on Amazon with same day delivery. These comforts could make us very impatient. We want everything quickly. It infiltrates our spiritual lives too. There is a story of a guy who knew he was very impatient. He then prayed: Dear Lord, give me patience – NOW!!! You might want to move ahead more quickly. Ha-ha… well, hang in there. The deep things in our lives do not (always) come quickly.
Today I invite you to reflect on some detail of your story. I do think it is necessary here at the beginning of our journey.
We do not start this journey as “a clean slate”. Each one of us has a story I interesting and mostly very complex stories. These stories have their “ups and downs”. We have memories, experience and knowledge. All these experiences influence us now. These memories are our filters through which we understand our reality. Think about it as unpacking your travelling bag.
This might be a rather extensive exercise. It could be very meaningful and even be exciting. A warning might be appropriate here: It is quite possible that as you reflect on your life story, you will discover new feelings about old events, new thoughts about old memories, new insights about almost forgotten incidents. We are rather complex beings!
This exercise might and should take some time. I encourage you not to rush it. You actually have a week to spend on this. Try to do it as comprehensive as possible. Remember: this is your life and your journey. You, and eventually many others, will benefit from this.
I suggest two different exercises. It might be a good idea to do both. The first focuses on your spiritual experiences and the second on your life’s storyline. Read the letter before you start the exercise.
The first exercise: write down on a piece of paper (A3 or A4) randomly single words which reflect ideas, places, names and experiences which have formed/influenced you spiritually. Do it as a brainstorm. Just start by writing down ideas as they emerge. If you are familiar with a mind map you could do that. You could also arrange them under some headings: people, places, events, books and authors and ideas. (Movies, jobs, dreams etc)
Once you have done that, go over it again. Notice your thoughts, feelings, internal response on these ideas, names, places and experiences. Explore these ideas. You could mark some in colour / circle / underline or write in bold. Be aware of your thoughts and feelings about these names, concepts. Also be aware of those ideas you deliberately choose NOT to write down!
The second exercise is to draw a Story line of your life. I have attached a template which you could use for this purpose.. At the top you could fill in the years of your life in 5’s. Then Then draw a line reflecting the ups and downs as you remember them – and name them. Reflect on the reasons for the ups and downs. You can end this exercise by reflecting on where you are just now and how you feel about it.
Remember we are slowly working the ground as a farmer would prepare the land at the beginning of the season. Remember, as with any journey - we have only just begun.
These exercises are important. The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard said: “ Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards…” We can learn much by reflecting on the past.
These are very personal exercises. You might feel you have more scope for honesty and deep reflection if you do it on your own. But there might be some value in sharing it or at least some of it with someone. If there is an aspect of your reflection you want to share in confidentiality, you are welcome to email me on firstname.lastname@example.org and mark the email CONFIDENTIAL. You could also even call me on WhatsApp on +33677388337.
I will share one or two things on the discussion group about exercise one.
Until next week.
Recall your thoughts/notes on last week’s reflection about your search or longing. How can you keep that alive?
While doing these exercises – has anything new or important emerged?
Are there any recurring themes or events in your life?
Are there any dominant themes, places, people, ideas in your life? What insight do they bring?