Ancient Polynesian wisdom says the world began when the Ta’aora - the creator - woke to find himself inside of a shell. Creator stretched, shook, broke the shell, and the earth was formed.
Ta’aora kept growing and found himself inside another shell. He shook, stretched, broke that shell too —and the moon was created. Soon he found himself contained yet again! This time he stretched, broke through the shell, and created the stars.
With the broken shell pieces, creator formed stones and sand. With his backbone he created the mountains. With his tears he filled the oceans and lakes.
A beautifully kind woman shared this story with me over 10 years ago. Aleyna and I were sitting near each other in an airport; flights delayed, just passing time. She was in her golden years with a tender smile and a strong, wise presence.
As settled into conversation Aleyna spoke to me about the power of story and the importance of sharing stories with each other. She told me that as a little girl she loved hearing the stories her parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would tell. Each weekend they’d gather for a beautiful meal together that would lead into singing, laughing and story-telling. But she said it wasn’t until her twenties that she began to realize that many of the stories she’d been told over and over were actually lessons about life.
Aleyna told me that the older she became the more she realized how stories can be used as tools for teaching. She laughed as she said, “people remember stories but forget lectures.” As I listened to this wise woman, it felt like time slowed, gently opening a door of reception. In an airport filled with hustle and bustle, fast sounds and high emotions due to delayed flights, it felt like she and I were in a calm little energy bubble.
Through the years, as I’ve recalled Aleyna and the wisdom she shared, I’ve realized personally how a story can plant a seed of layered inquiry. How profound and beautiful, that as we live, grow and evolve, we can return to the stories we’ve been gifted only to discover deeper meaning. Story medicine requires us to engage with its energy in order to receive its gifts. Remembering, revisiting, and sharing, grant access the portal of energy a story carries.
Returning to my remembering of Aleyna her delightfully her animated display of how creator stretched and broke through shells has offered me teachings I had not connected with at first. Is this story brings us back to the appreciation of the miraculous creation of life, but is there also a subtle lesson about our own growth?
As human beings, do we evolve this way too? Does the piece of God within each of us guide us through our growth, stretch us until we’ve outgrown a shell… and then whisper a sacred signal that calls our spirit to rise up and break through?
How many shells have you broken during your lifetime?
I think about those who have become parents, changed careers, moved across the world, endured traumatic events—they broke through. I’ve witnessed people who’ve battled cancer break through a shell that could no longer contain the deeper and more wise version of themselves they had become.
I believe the truth is that there are fragments of shell everywhere. Each and every day we are alive we are living on ground filled with shells that have been broken down into sacred sands. We move over and through the energy of past versions of ourselves and others. How can we honor that?
I pray that each time we place foot to ground, or meet another eye-to-eye, we remember. May we remember that at every single moment we are all engaged in the holy and messy process of living the journey of our soul's evolution --and witnessing the evolution of others.
May that remembering illuminate the energies of compassion, strength, grace and love within each of us... for all of us.