|Rocks with stories, from the Chapel garden at St. Francis House.|
"The key to the future is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known." Pete Seeger
My wife texted me that quote, which she read on a bumper sticker, this morning. She texted me that quote as an encouragement because she says ol' Pete was an artist and storyteller like me. I don't know if I'm a storyteller. I know I like to talk. I also love to listen. Especially to stories. And I am convinced that the world is more beautiful when and where stories are told, because it is not easy to share a story without also sharing a part of yourself. To tell a story is to admit that this thing and not that thing caught your attention, commanded your interest. Something grabbed you and, in the grabbing, showed you something about yourself.
To tell a story is to reveal the gravity of your heart, as well as the things that most pull into that gravity. Stories, of course, are full of ideas, details, deep truths, and meaning. In addition to these, the gravity of the heart picks up things like fears and sadnesses, hopes, passions, and joys.
A friend on campus told me recently, "I need to hear stories of Jesus at work in the lives of other people."
I love stories. I love my Church. With my friend, I long for my Church to tell more of her stories.
Modesty, false or true - along with God knows what else - silences far too many stories with the potential to speak to the longing of my friend. But storytelling can only feel like boasting when the longing of my friend and others like her is forgotten. Stories are living water for the a thirsty soul. Who, possessing such water, would deny it to another?
In an email from my Gathering of Leader peeps this morning:
It is important for us to know, really know, whether our efforts to become a loving community of worship, education, and outreach bearing witness to Christ’s redeeming grace are bearing fruit. What we believe about this impacts our ministry and identity. How do we add, as a tool of assessment, our stories of transformed lives?
And then, as I am writing this post, a PhD candidate unaware of this post comes in to tell me his advisor has given him only one question with which to frame his dissertation: "What is the story you're trying to tell?"
To see and speak the things we have seen - these are the actions of those who belong to the Story of God With Us. Scripture and Spirit.
What are your stories of the Spirit at work in your faith community, your neighborhood community, strangers, your family - in you? What are your stories of unexpected joy in the promised-still-surprising presence of Jesus? What part of the story of Scripture is the Spirit singing back to you these days in the lives of those around you?
How will you tell the stories you see? With love, of course, but how else? In a book? Through your vocation? On a blog? Through your art? In music? Dancing? How else will you tell them?
Promise us you'll find some way to give voice to the stories you see.
Did you know that some of the people you are afraid to tell these stories to are longing with all that they are to hear them?
"I want to hear stories of Jesus at work in the lives of other people," said my friend.
I do too.