By Meghan Hatcher
This is a season of endings and transitions with all of its attending emotions. There are a number of endings to take care of between now and Commencement Day as I look toward graduation from Wesley Theological Seminary in just 17 days. And while those endings bring sadness (and a fair amount of relief, to be honest), what I am most anticipating are the beginnings and the continuations I’m walking toward. The Clay Jar Project will continue after graduation, after my time in Washington, D.C., comes to an end, and hopefully well into the future. That’s exciting stuff!
The formation of this storytelling ministry and all the people who have helped me develop it since 2016 has been an experience for which I am very grateful. I am deeply thankful for the learning experiences, mentorship and space to experiment that was afforded to me as a Community Engagement Fellow while studying at Wesley the last three years. My thanks extends to the Life Stories Institute of The Theatre Lab in Washington, D.C., whose training in 2017 helped me format the methodology used in the creation of The Clay Jar Project ministry. I’m thankful for the many conversations, the bulk of which arose out of pure God-happenstance, that led me to the initial idea and name for this ministry, the how of this work, and the partners along the way.
I would not be in pursuit of this work without the support and wisdom of many storytellers and teachers who have gone before me. For those I studied with in person and for those whose words I only read over these last few years, your revelations are a means of grace in my life and ministry. Perhaps most especially deserving of my infinite gratitude are the women who partnered with me for the pilot group of this ministry in Spring 2018. I continue to be amazed by their utter bravery and willingness to dive deeply into the vulnerability of their own life stories and to proclaim their voices loudly. Their spirits were a source of strength and encouragement for me then and now.
Now as I move to new places and new expressions of ministry, my prayer is that we always remember that what we have is enough.
By Meghan Hatcher
I recently had the opportunity to break bread with a woman who was part of the pilot storytelling group that ended last April. Over the months she participated in the group and afterward, we gathered multiple times for coffee and happy hour to talk about experiences in the group and process life together. This most recent visit came with an unexpected blessing as she shared with me the ways the storytelling group experience continues to bear fruit in her life and relationships.
She shared a story of a recent date that involved more vulnerability and candidness than she typically allows herself when first meeting someone. She feels this is a direct result of the storytelling group and the ways that experience continues to encourage her to be brave and share more openly with other people rather than presenting a very guarded version of herself. She also mentioned that the storytelling group invited her to explore areas of her life she had not previously tapped into and she’s seen reconciliation in relationships where it was longed for and needed.
As I developed the format this storytelling ministry would take, a question that lingered was how the participants would engage the experience after the final storytelling event. It is enormously encouraging to hear that, at least for this woman, the storytelling group not only gave her space to be more self-reflective about her life story, but also equipped her with a set of skills that can be applied in a variety of situations. In this way, the learnings, growth and community the storytelling group participants experienced and created together continue to bear fruit for months and years into the future. Like seeds scattered on ready soil, this ministry takes firm root in each participant’s life. Thanks be to God.
By Meghan Hatcher
Many in the United Methodist Church describe this present moment in the denomination as Holy Saturday. I agree. The tomb is too dark and the stone is too heavy, not yet rolled away to reveal new life. The General Conference of the UMC failed gravely this week and in so doing left catastrophe in its wake. If I had the words for it, there is so much I could say about this particular moment and the decades of anguish and pain leading up to it. But what I will focus on in these paragraphs is how the tomb of this Holy Saturday still contains Christ. If I, and my LGBTQ+ siblings, are inside the tomb at least it is good to know that Christ is in here with us.