Much of winter is still ahead of us. On cold, snowy nights, shut off the telly, put away social media devices and tell stories: each other’s, well-loved stories, stories with surprise endings, stories that helped shape us Enjoy and treasure your stories of life, faith, adventure.
We live a life-long story, and yet, if asked, we would not be sure that our own stories are interesting at all. It’s only in the telling of our stories, we begin to see their value and worth.
We also have a wealth of family stories. My four-foot eight Polish peasant
grandfather, conscripted into the Russian army, deserted, and somehow made his way to Lackawanna, New York. How did that happen? I had no idea, before hearing this story as a child, that my little Grandpa had such courage!
We tell stories that have impacted others in the world, stories about what happened at school or work. Travelling, seated next to strangers, we often exchange stories. Sometimes, we reveal to strangers whom we will never see again parts of ourselves we don’t easily share with people closer to us: incidents, near-misses, day dreams. “I remember once… I had an experience something like that…”
Beyond those of our own lives, we like to hear other stories, see stories unfold on TV or in books, or at the movies. Stories make meaning the way that analysis or synthesis can’t. Where did the world come from? Why are there people? Who don’t snakes have legs? Why do the living die? As we read the lives of others in biographies, we clarify our own convictions, and have new tools to examine our own lives. Here’s a thought: Go where you can hear the stories of migrants and refugees and be awed. To be human is to have a story to tell.
The much admired writer, Elie Weisel, once remarked “God created people because he loves stories.” We know that Jesus was a remarkable storyteller. He used the stuff of ordinary life, introduced strangers into the story who became unexpectedly central to the meaning of the story and, as we know when we study them, these parables say more than they seemed to intend, to this very day.
God is not captured for once and for all in our human stories, but God is surely revealed in our stories, if our eyes and hearts are open.
The philosopher Kierkegaard went even further to say “the only real answers to religious questions are in the telling of a story.” So dare to explore religious questions in this seemingly simple way. Tell and enjoy the power of stories in your life.