Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: From the High Hill: An Elder Adult Program on Mining the Stories of Your Lifetime

Chapter 1: Getting Started

There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a [person], a town, a building or a wilderness... The search we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of any person, and the crux of any individual person's story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive. — Christopher Alexander

When Black Elk, a Lakota tribal leader, looked back as an elder on the "happiness and sorrow" of his dramatic life, he referred to his view as from "this high hill of my old age." This program is an opportunity to reflect on our life's journey from atop such a high hill, survey the distances of our lives from every direction, and craft an Odyssey that we might share what we have experienced.

Each life is special and interesting. Each of us, if we so choose, might mine the history our life, rediscovering the story of our personal journey in order to better learn what life has to teach us. This resource provides a process for exploring and writing your life's journey, your Odyssey. It provides a guide for two facilitated weekend retreats for a group of six to ten people, one before the Odyssey-writing begins and the other for Odyssey preparation. It also provides a participant handbook—a guide for collecting memories, selecting what is important, writing and presenting an Odyssey, and reflecting after the presentation. It offers suggestions for congregational recognition and for continued engagement with those who wish to examine the far reaches of a lifetime, and in so doing, find more of its meaning.


This resource will:

  • Provide a process to help participants mine the history, stories, and wisdom from their life experiences and journey
  • Provide activities to build a covenanted group to support each participant's Odyssey preparation and presentation
  • Offer guidance for Odyssey preparation and presentation
  • Suggest ways for individual participants to extend the experience
  • Suggest ways for congregations to mark this passage in the lives of elders.