Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: A Place of Wholeness: A Program for Youth Exploring Their Own Unitarian Universalist Faith Journeys

Handout 3: Spiritual Metaphor-Spiritual Autobiography

Adapted with permission from Search Institute®. Copyright © 2008 Search Institute, Minneapolis, MN; All rights reserved.

Option 1: Spiritual Metaphor

Instructions: As you move through your life—the days and seasons, the ups and downs, the joys and hardships and lessons learned—is there an image that you use to describe the shape of life? For example, some people imagine life as a ship sailing across uncharted waters, and their faith, values, and beliefs as the wind in the sails. Others imagine it as a spiral of experiences and realizations, or as a journey over mountains and valleys. You can visualize your life as a river and describe its flow, twists and turns, depths and shallows, etc. How do you see it? Draw your image and consider using it as a metaphor throughout this spiritual autobiography activity.

Options 2: Spiritual Autobiography

Note: You don't have to answer all of the questions.

  • What is your first name, your age, and where do you live?
  • Does your name have a meaning or a story attached to it?
  • As a child, what did your parents teach you about religion? What did they teach you about good and evil? How has your family's religious background affected you?
  • What scriptures or other books did your family regard as holy? How seriously were the teachings in them taken?
  • How did you perceive God or the sacred when you were a child?
  • Did your family observe any religious rituals? How were those rituals related to their beliefs?
  • Have there been times when you felt the presence of the sacred outside your place of worship, when there were no reverends, priests, pastors, rabbis, or other teachers around? What was that experience like?
  • How is your present religious affiliation or spiritual life similar to or different from your parents'? How did the change, if any, come about? Was it a long process or short? Easy or difficult?
  • When have you experienced awe or wonder? Where were you and what happened?
  • Who are your saints, holy people, spiritual teachers?
  • What are the important words and stories of the philosophies or religions that have shaped you?
  • What holy days, if any, do you celebrate?
  • Are your spiritual beliefs or values relevant to what you wear, what you do, who you are friends with?
  • Has a belief in God, other deities, or a sense of something larger than yourself, shown itself in the ordinary, everyday events of your life?
  • Do seemingly random events of your life seem to reveal interconnectedness?
  • Call to mind the significant turning points in your life; what are they?
  • What are the most significant decisions you have made?
  • What are the most intense struggles and conflicts, successes and failures you have experienced?
  • Have you ever felt or experienced a sense of being "called" to do something?
  • How do you plan to live out your beliefs in the future?