Have you ever written down your spiritual beliefs and shared it with those close to you? Dr. David Dollahite and Jill Berrett Given relate their experiences with honoring personal sacred texts, both from the author’s perspective and from the receiving side.
Jill here! As you might be able to tell from the length of our episode with Drs. David Dollahite and Loren Marks, we had a fabulous conversation with them that we just did not want to stop. For the sake of our listeners’ ears, however, we had to edit it down a touch, losing some of the wisdom they shared with us. One story, shared by Dr. Dollahite and transcribed below, really resonated with me, however.
David C Dollahite
“One of the things I did a few years ago was to write down my own spiritual experiences, my own spiritual journey from being a non religious teenager to a conversion experience and reading a sacred text and coming to God and becoming a religious person and then what that meant to me; the changes that meant to my life. So, I wrote this up and it happened to be published in a book called God’s Tender Mercies… I was very fortunate to be able to do an audiobook version of this book… that my daughter and son-in-law got… My grandkids used to listen to that audiobook for their bedtime stories- they requested it because it was their grandfather talking about his own childhood and his own spiritual and religious changes and experiences. For months they listened to that…and I can’t tell you the joy of hearing my grandkids bring up in various settings an experience that I had while reading sacred text. Many of those experiences that I shared in that book are spiritual experiences that had something to do with reading sacred text. To hear them…tell back to me these experiences that I had- they would share similar ideas or they would ask about that, would like me to tell that story again or tell more about that or more details about that…
I think, in addition to reading sacred texts with your children, if you can write your own sacred texts, so to speak- that is, to write, or to audio-record if you don’t like to write, those meaningful religious and spiritual experiences that you have had and then find a way to share those with your children and, down the road, grandchildren, I think there is potential blessing and joy in that… Reading what people hundreds or thousands of years ago in another culture experienced in terms of their own religious experiences- that’s a deeply important thing to do. I believe that helping your children and grandchildren to know that you yourself have had those kinds of interactions with God…that you’ve sort of been to the mountaintop, so to speak, that you have received answers to your prayers, that you have had challenges in your life that were helped by reading sacred text or by prayer, and if you have had experiences, as anyone who is living a religious life will have- times when they feel God’s presence or God’s guidance or comfort or forgiveness or whatever- if those can be written down and then shared in whatever way makes sense with family members, [then] I believe that that can be a real blessing.”
Jill Berrett Given
Shortly after I married my husband, his father sent him and all his siblings a letter. In it, he shared with them the experiences that he and his wife, my husband’s mother, had gone through shortly after they themselves had been married that led them to the church that they now belong to and the peace and joy that it has brought to them and the family that they subsequently raised.
I was fascinated by this letter, as I come from a family who has been members of the same church going back for generation after generation after generation. I have read the stories of my ancestors having those types of spiritual experiences, but it had all happened so long ago that it was simply a nice story. This one had happened to people who, had they made different choices during that time, would have changed my own life. I never would have met and married my husband had they not had those spiritual experiences. I would not have the children I have. I would not have the life I have.
We read that letter every so often in our home, both just between my husband and I as well as with our children. I hadn’t thought about it in these terms until hearing Dr. Dollahite talk about it, but it truly has become sacred text to us. I probably wasn’t even foremost in my father-in-law’s mind when he wrote his experiences down, as I was so newly married into their family, but his words have had a great impact on my life and so will yours on people you may not even realize if you simply write them down. Words are powerful and important, as we hope to tell the word with our podcast, and sacred words can be some of the most powerful ones out there.