If you were to sit down and write your autobiography, how would you go about organizing the material? What would each chapter be called?
While there are many ways I could go about organizing my material, the easiest was would be to use the names of the five places I have lived for an extended about of time: Deer Park, WA; Tacoma, WA; Spokane, WA; Denver, CO; and Los Angeles.
Each chapter would contain not only the name of a city, but a subtitle as well that captures what went on for me in that setting. The chapter titled Deer Park, would be subtitled “Being Formed”; Tacoma would be subtitled “Learning”; Spokane would be subtitled “Exploring”; Denver would be subtitled “Integrating”; and Los Angeles would be subtitled “Claiming”.
Deer Park represents the only stage of my life that was largely driven by other people and their agendas for me. That seems appropriate since chapter comprised my life from birth through the age of 18. Tacoma would explore how my time at Pacific Lutheran University – between the ages of 18-22 – gave me a template for learning that has staying with me all my life. Spokane would explore how I came to explore pieces of myself during my 20’s that I had never explored before: my political passions, my vocational interests, my sexual orientation, and my spiritual life. Denver – the period of my life between the ages of 32-42 – would examine how I took the various pieces of my life and integrated them in ways I had never thought possible. Los Angeles – between ages of 42 through 52 and counting – is the chapter of my life where I have learned to claim and defend the person who I am becoming.
So why am I thinking about biographies and the chapters of one’s life?
In the month of July, I have the unprecedented opportunity to spend time in 4 of the 5 places that defined my life. The only “chapter” I won’t have the opportunity to visit/revisit is Tacoma. As I have moved from one chapter to another – first Los Angeles, then Spokane, and then Deer Park (with Denver on the horizon today) – I’ve been flooded by memories. It’s been a powerful spiritual experience to feel my story unfold. What a blessing this opportunity has been!
I don’t want to make my time with you today self-indulgent. Instead, I want to close my time by drawing you back to my opening pair of questions. If you were to sit down and write your autobiography, how would you go about organizing the material? What would each chapter be called? I hope your time exploring those questions is both rewarding, exhilarating, and meaningful!