Featured image: Sander van der Wel from Netherlands, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Where are we coming from? How did we get here? What do we have in common? What differs in our experiences? We listen to each other’s stories – this is the inheritance from which growth will emerge.

Today we hear the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, telling each other stories, trying to puzzle them out, and they are joined by Jesus who joins in their story-telling fest. Today we may choose to tell and listen to our own stories too. How might our stories entwine to write a next chapter?

The icon of Our Lady of Lincoln tells its own story in the face and the gestures – it is customary to “read” an icon, not just to look at it. You can read the story of the creation of the icon here:

Finally Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie advises that stories, if we let ourselves be defined by them, can limit us. None of the stories we tell, or the stories we hear are the “full” story.

Opening prayer

If you are using this prayer by yourself at home, then remember that you are not alone. You are a valued member of this group, you are sharing this retreat together. Each person will pray and ponder in their own time and place, but the Spirit is with each and every one and all of you. You are together in God.

A: Creator of the world, eternal God,
B: we come together from our own places for a little while.

A: Redeemer of humanity, God with us,
B: we have come with all our differences seeking common respect

A: Spirit of unity, go-between God,
B: we have come with stories of our own to a place where stories meet.

A: So here, in this space, let us take time together. for when your people gather and stories are shared, there is much to celebrate and honour.
B: In your name, three in one God, pattern of community. Amen.

Adapted from “Iona Abbey Worship Book”, 2001. copyright © WGRG, Iona Community, Glasgow, Scotland. Reproduced by permission.


Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.  They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.  As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

Luke 24:13-16

Pope Francis on Story

I would like to devote this year’s Message to the theme of storytelling, because I believe that, so as not to lose our bearings, we need to make our own the truth contained in good stories. Stories that build up, not tear down; stories that help us rediscover our roots and the strength needed to move forward together. Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us. A narrative that can regard our world and its happenings with a tender gaze. A narrative that can tell us that we are part of a living and interconnected tapestry. A narrative that can reveal the interweaving of the threads which connect us to one another.

Optional Resources

1: Icon of Our Lady of Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral UK

Our Lady of Lincoln, Lincoln Cathedral, England. Completed May 2014.

Carved from a single block of Great Ponton limestone. Total height, about 2.3 metres (7′-6″). Polychromed with egg tempera and casein, using azurite and ochre pigments, and gilded with 23 1/2 carat gold leaf. Images by Jason Hippisley.  Lincoln Cathedral March 2022

2: *0.00-6.00* Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story
*Just listen to 0:00-6:00 if you are pressed for time.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: The danger of a single story:  TEDGlobal 2009 © TED Conferences, LLC.   All rights reserved

Questions to ponder

1: What is your initial reaction to all or any of the source material?

2. The Bible is a book of stories, some more based in fact than others. The two disciples were talking through those stories on the way to Emmaus. Which scriptural stories would you like to talk about with the people in your group?

3: What other stories have been influential in your life? A book at bedtime on the knee of a loved one, the book-that-changed-my-life, or anything in between? Were they are passing phase, or do they still hold sway in the way you live now? A legacy? or a blip on the horizon?

4: The “tender gaze” of the Lady icon in Lincoln Cathedral looks as if she has many stories to share. What worlds and histories has she seen? What does she want to tell us?

5: What is the importance of stories in the way we relate to each other?

6. What stories do you have to tell? What stories would you like to be able to tell differently?

Closing Prayer

A: As we continue in our retreat together, in this day and in our lives
B: May we be grateful for the blessings of this day, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for the new stories and new ways of thinking we have explored, today and each day.
B: May we be grateful for kind company, heedful to God, heedful to ourselves and heedful to each other, today and each day

A: God who speaks so that all may hear you
B: Bless all that we have heard and honoured in our work today

A: God who has chosen your story as part of our story
B: Enliven us with the grace of the stories we have shared and celebrated.

A: God from whom all gifts come, who shares our adventure, and delights in our friendship
B: We thank you for your presence with us as we continue in our retreat this day, and each day of our lives. Amen