At the end of winter, we not only shed our heavy coats and hats, we emerge out of our winter cocoons. We gather for picnics, concerts, outdoor event of all kinds. Even as these things happen, we find ourselves telling, hearing and exchanging stories.
People love stories. They give us room to move around the speaker’s world. We also admit others into our world as we tell the story of an event, a beginning and ending, something funny, something sad.
The best parts of the Scriptures for many people are the stories that embody God’s interaction with the big and little personalities of the encounters. One woman I know has paid much attention to the story of the woman with the hemorrhage who touched Jesus garment (Mark 5.25-34, Matthew 9. 20-22, Luke 8.43-48). The woman I know was there, in her imagination, mind and heart, at that moment when Jesus turned to the woman with the hemorrhage. He said to her: “I never want to see you grovel.” Ahhh, blessed insight.
Our lives are made up of not one story, but many stories, but we often pick out some stories that we tell over and over again. We massage them with words and pauses until they are finely honed. When inspired by another person’s story, we find ourselves remembering stories we thought we had not valued. The stories we hear on the news after a tragedy of some sort often give an insight into the way observers or participants interpreted the event.
Sometimes people use their stories to arouse sympathy. There is the victim, who downplays his or her own role in an event. The villain story turns the blame, the guilt on the other person, not on themselves. The helpless story leads the listener to conclude that the helpless person had no choice. Don’t fall in love with these stories, if you tell them at all or hear them told. Rethink them for the sake of life.
Instead, let’s let the stories we tell be sincere. One interpretation of the word “sincere” comes the Latin phrase sino cero – without wax. In ancient Greece and Rome, some shady sculptors fixed their less than perfect art pieces by filling in faulty spots with wax. Some purchasers were duped. Others, more perceptive, asked if the sculpture was sino cero – without false stuff.
A good thought to shape our stories for the summer’s telling.
~ Sister Joan Sobala