on stories

I’ve been wrestling lately with the idea of stories…  There is something about a story that resonates, that sweeps us up into it and captures our imagination – the narrative, the surprising twist, the moment of truth – and this is no less true in the fictional stories that we see on the screen or read off the page as it is in the stories that make up our daily lives – the beauty and joy, the tragedy and heartbreak, the ecstasy and pathos that fill each of our lives.  

I love stories – I love to hear them, to tell them, to read them, to dream them.  I see the power that stories have in changing our imagination, in planting seeds of newness in our thought, of opening up possibilities and flashes of hope.  I love to write stories as well: the crackles of joy, the shocks of unexpected grace, the elation that comes from seeing something old and tired in a new, fresh, resplendent light.  

There is power in stories.  And this is where I hesitate.  After all, the true stories of my life don’t happen in a vacuum.  I live in relationship with others – my friends, my family, those I love and have loved, those who love me and those who no longer love me – and the web of those relationships is inextricably intertwined.  My stories aren’t just my stories – they are OUR stories, for good or for ill.

Anne Lamott said “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better…”  I’m not sure how much I agree with that.  Parts of me want to – to be honest, to be truthful (as I see it), to tell my story in a way that sheds light and truth and gives hope and paints a picture of beauty and grace in the midst of scars and trouble.  And maybe that’s all I can do.  But part of me is hesitant – hesitant to share something that is not just MY story with whoever (all 7 people that read this…)  And that part is exacerbated by concerns for those whose stories intertwine with mine: from the street kids of Rio to the kids I work with every day here in Chicago, from my classmates in school to the foibles and failures of my relationships.  These are my stories, and I want to write them; share them; offer them up as an offering and a delight, as a way of remembering and being thankful, as a means of prayer and a means of grace…  

Maybe I can write those stories…  and maybe after writing them, I can then share them?  Not everything.  But some things…  Not perfection.  But simply grace, and beauty, and the delightful mess that is life…

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One response to “on stories

  1. As one of your seven readers, I would like to say for the stories you have shared along the way and I look forward to hearing more. I’m bummed I always miss you when you are in town, and now I am moving away… Stories are always better face to face, but for now I do appreciate hearing from you here.

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