Why is it that in the English language, the phrase ‘telling stories’ has come to be a synonym for telling lies? I really wish I knew the answer!
Last week, around 100 MHA Chaplains gathered for their biennial Conference, and they were joined for some of the time by around 70 others. The title of the Conference was borrowed from Max Bygraves – “I wanna tell you a story”, and through invited speakers and in workshops and seminars, ample evidence of the importance of telling our story and it being heard and understood was forthcoming. The former broadcaster Debbie Thrower spoke of her work as a Community Chaplain among older people living in Hampshire, describing her many notebooks in which she has recorded some of the wisdom that has been shared with her. And we were able to launch our new book, God, Me and Being Very Old: Stories and Spirituality in later life, based on stories which have been shared by MHA residents with our Chaplains, and which is published this month.
In many cultures throughout time and around the world, stories are one of the key vessels by which truths and the things which matter can be shared. And the experience within MHA is that if we are really to know and understand the older people in our care, honouring them by listening to their stories is fundamental. On the final day of our Conference, Grace Jones, Britain’s oldest woman and the last Briton born in the 19th century died. Look up her story on the internet – it is typically remarkably unremarkable!
Group Director – Chaplaincy and Spirituality