The power in sharing stories
It’s always the dogs that get to our hearts, isn’t it? I didn’t watch the funeral for the Queen, but I saw later highlights. The two corgis standing with the uniformed attendants made my heart break a little. I’m guessing like a lot of the rest of us whose hearts melt with our animals, maybe the Queen was closest to her humanity when she was with her dogs.
I’ll be honest, I don’t understand the lasting nature of the Royal family and the part it plays in the world of politics, economics, and national definition. I also don’t understand fully the world’s fascination with this family – who’s getting along with whom and/or the greater fascination, who’s not. Who gets to wear the uniforms with all the medals, who does not. What it’s like to be born into a family where the rules of conduct and the pomp and circumstances beyond your control are simply laid out without question. Except when the questions come, sometimes the reverberations reach out in concentric circles toward the reality of the rest of the world.
I wonder if any of our families’ lives were in the public square as much as theirs seemingly is, what might the world think of our tribes and clans? One friend told me that for that kind of wealth, she thought her family would be fine with a microscope on their every move. I don’t think so, so much. While the adage is that we all have our $price$, I’m not sure that’s actually true. I said the other day that if you’re making $500,000,000 for playing a game, your life must be perfect all the time, without pause, every second of the day. Surely that much money makes everything perfect? Of course not. And most of us say we’d like to try it out just to be sure we’re right.
Pastor Kyle’s doing a year-long theme in Common Grace entitled “The Year of the Story”. It intrigues me. We all have stories – of life, of friendships and relationships, of education and wisdom, of coming to awareness around all kinds of issues and the development of our thoughts and hearts. Because we live these stories, sometimes we don’t much think about them until or unless someone asks us to tell them.
We did that easily as children – perhaps even pleaded with teachers or parents or siblings to read us or tell us a story. One of my favorite movies ever, I have no problem calling it a classic, is “The Princess Bride.” Genius. And the setting of the story is a grandfather telling his grandson a bedtime story. Another favorite movie is “Second-hand Lion”, also in a setting of the now grown man who came of age as a boy in the home of two uncles and the stories they told and how he tells their story. Both of them, though quite different, are moving in the authenticity as well as the sincere care that is illustrated in the fluid lines of reality and imagination.
My love and passion for the Bible has everything to do with the truth of it as story. The often vivid and starkly clear illustrations of human beings at their best and at their worst; filled with faith and filled with doubt; way overly confident and hugely humble; all that is human that is beyond generational limitation is somewhere a story in the Bible.
I have friends and acquaintances in my life right now that are so angry with God they refuse to say God’s name or acknowledge there might be one. Do I hear a huge intake of breath? Feel free to breathe back out, God is big enough to handle our anger and our refusal to believe. I have others who are simply wondering and wandering around thoughts of whether there really is a larger purpose in life than ourselves and our own happiness, and how it is a living faith fits in with a world gone awry with violence and pandemic. Still others are certain that we are in the mess we’re in because kids don’t pray in school anymore – um, because God can’t enter into places if we don’t specifically ask? I don’t think God is limited by our lack of imagination or insight or rules or frankly, walls of buildings.
We all are in different places with our relationship with God and our faith at different times in our stories of life. Sometimes if not most times, we don’t even realize it until or unless we tell a story from a particular chapter and as we hear ourselves remembering it may occur to us where God was in the midst of everything.
I probably won’t ever completely understand the focus we have on “the royals” – the English ones, not the baseball ones. But I know the storied history of the family “reign” gives a defining foundation to that nation and those people. What I also have learned through the years, is the importance of the ritual and in this case, the pageantry of recognizing our place in the storyline of family and of history.
Maybe it’s time to ask someone to tell you a piece of their story – most folks kind of like talking about different experiences that have brought them to where they are. The dynamic interaction and relationship of the telling and the listening is, I am so bold to say, sacred. As beloved children in the family of a grace-full Creator, unexpected moments of the sacred can and do happen as we share pieces of our life with one another. Maybe it’s time, for you and for me, for once upon a time . . .