Tag Archives: story

telling tales

I try to make you laugh – circling  you with tales, like some jester.

You are waiting patiently for me to settle, secure.

It takes a while…you pour and sit me outside, I do me better there.

The air is still warm, summer’s sun hangs on long this far south.

My stories slow and enter valley places.

Your eyes never leave mine in doubt or distraction.

My voice breaks during a tiny scene of redemption in a drama of debt and death.

You ask me questions, eager to know more, this is a CSI case, not my confession of ineptitude and disgrace.

And suddenly, it seems to me, mine is story in search of a telling…a yarn of wonder, not a noose.

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reading our stories

Yesterday, I read the students in our Bible class a favorite allegory from the dark ages: Ragman, by Walter Wangerin. Let me know if you are familiar with it. Today, I read the other students some of my stories. I tried to choose ones that let the students  in on my struggles, doubts and fears. I purposely let them see me as a real person, not just a teacher.

I know one must walk a fine line doing such as an Economics teacher, but in teaching, or better, facilitating this class, vulnerability and honesty is paramount. The others have to see me, to see the God that works above, around and through me. I want them to see themselves in the same way: not as a barrier to God’s life poured out, but as a viaduct.

He uses all of us, with or without our permission or knowledge. It’s so important that they understand, that I understand, how unlimited God is by us, and yet how much He loves to have us work in concert with Him.

I shared stories of my childhood, my school years, my time in college and my present. Most seemed to enjoy the window into me and consequently into God’s workings.

For what ever reason, my sensitivity to story, my love of it or something altogether else, God has included me in some great story moments. I have hundreds I can relay. Sometimes, I  listen to the Enemy and think my apparent preponderance will intimidate others…but, you know, anytime I have ever shared them, the opposite has occurred. Instead, we have all been humbled, encouraged  and enabled by the Spirit of God to better identify our own God moments.

So, I am going to keep writing them out and I’m going to keep on sharing them with those around me, to the glory of God.

Would you care to share one of your stories with me? I’d love to post it here for all to see.

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Let me tell you a story.

I’m remembering how so many of my relationships started …me sharing a story and someone being drawn into that story that I loved or that I lived or maybe with a now friend offering a story to me.

Many years ago, I made a discovery…lots of folks have never had a story read to them. It shook my world to see such, here in the US of A. I discovered this as I went to say Christmas break goodbyes to a group of ministry students that had been kind to my children. Something or Somebody compelled me to take a couple of books along…that seemed strange, these students were 18, 19, 20 years old. But, before I went over for my visit, I tucked the books into my purse.

I had written this group of girls a note of thanks which I read aloud to them and then I asked if I could read them a story. Now, I had read to my students (middle-high school age) before many times, but these were quasi-adults. I felt a little strange, but I was  compelled none-the-less. I pulled out my favorite Christmas reads and began. The girls that lived there and those just over visiting were spread throughout the house. But, as I began to read, girls gathered and the circle enlarged. The young women moved close and settled quietly. Some got up from their initial position about the room and moved closer, like at my elbow closer, to me. The air was hushed. I read on, aware of the Holy Spirit’s nearness to us all.

When I finished, they beamed. A couple of them offered,”I don’t know when someone last read to me, I loved it.”

One girl, who had moved over closer to the beautiful words, told me later, “I don’t ever remember being read to, thank you.”

I know few things in this world. But, I know that story bonds and breaks boundaries and buoys dreams and is the essence of Life.

I believe that story is the language God most often speaks to us. It is how we relate to one another.

Today, we begin our unit in our Bible class on story. I have some powerful ones to share with the students… they have some important ones to share as well. It is my prayer that our time today will become Story, enlightening and sustaining.

Please pray for us as we gather to Story and share Life together.

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don’t feel the need to impress

I was talking about an ideal vacation: books, great food that I don’t cook, friends that I don’t feel the need to impress… there was more in that verbalization.

I’m trying, trying with all I am, to get to that place…the place where I don’t feel the need to impress, or even do my best. It’s not about me quenching my desire to care, to choose carefully my words. Words are arrows and all. They slay and wound with love. I am not renouncing my call to wield well.

But, there is a place – a dwelling – a moment between…  rarely known… with a safe, secure sentinel, in a  garrison of grace.

The strong listener who can hear, hold and not tremble.

Where… all impressions will be the marks of  bent and  twisted  characters. Contorted beyond recognition, I hope… I star in these long silenced stories.

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I need the story

I don’t like people to tell me what happened in a movie or book before I have my chance with the story. I don’t want their take coloring what the story might say to me, lift from me, work into me, strengthen me to do. I don’t need their take, I need the story.

We had a little girl, she is 22, but that is a little girl  to me now, come and share her story of being bullied in school. She is obviously beautiful, eloquent,  brilliant and in the race for Miss Alabama, now. Had someone else told me her story, I would have listened. It was interesting, almost unbelievable, worth the time to hear. But it wouldn’t have effected me the same.

She told us just a little of it; there was challenge,  sacrifice, pain, suffering, redemption, calling, purpose, triumph and everything a good story should have. But the power of the story came in a moment, unscripted, of ethos and pathos, when she broke for millisecond, and it all rushed to the NOW, and we were in it with her, almost in her, living it, too. And something deep transpired. I watched some of the students make the shift, from listening to being with/in, listening through. And truth, core cutting truth, came into that room and worked some wholeness and some grief. I know that she didn’t tell it all, but she told enough to bring the NOW into the moment.

She told lots of interesting, challenging statistics; but her story, brought the real – the eternal real (God Himself) tangibly into the room.

Sometimes, when I get still enough, ready enough to listen, God will tell me some of His story, He will read it to me, adding all the helpful embellishments, just the way my Dada would the funny papers. He will tell me the unabridged, drop-down version and sometimes,  His voice will break, too…and pull me in to Him, so “with” that I can barely discern myself…and I feel what He feels, see what He sees.

I so need story.

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the vehicle of truth is story

I found my mentor, Madeleine L’Engle, when I was in college. I had read some of her works earlier, but they didn’t “get me” nor I them, until college. Then they overwhelmed me. I think that I have since read everything that she has written. That is no small list.

Now, when I say mentor, I do not mean to imply that I knew her personally, but I feel as if I did. She helped me with my questions, and she helped me to form better and better ones.

Madeleine was an actress and writer. She was a curious soul who discovered mysteries of the universe through her writing in areas of nano-biology and physics and higher math, and she “discovered” the Creator of that mystery through her writing as well. Story was the vehicle that led her to truth, Christ. As she wrote story, asking questions in her pursuit, He appeared in the stories that poured from her. God’s media of choice is story. He tells story, He embodies story. Story is the path to truth.

Madeleine’s God was wild and wonderful: Elohim. Madeleine’s God was wonderful/terrible, not in His power to destroy, but in His power to love. The god of destruction, “Theos” – the Greek idea of God – is derived from ole Zeus. Elohim’s terribleness came in His love – unquenchable and passionately pursuant.

Elohim is the God an artist can truly appreciate: emotional and yet careful, quick to turn, and yet strident, He is gentle, though He will have His way, the intricate designer who hides His signature. Elohim: the God who dreams to life the stars and each of us.

Elohim: the God who blinds us with the beauty of the Earth and whispers the unknown in the ear. Elohim: the God who stands between us and our Enemies, who bends down to lift us. The God who entertains even our mocking and scoffing: Elohim. The God who left all for our coming near: Elohim. Shattered, segmented, spilled out for our wholeness: again, Elohim.

God has a story. Or more revelatory to me at one point: God has a life. We, the Church, are to live that life in/with Him. His Life story sure sounds like it would be  a good one. I sure would like to hear it.

How about you?

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quest

College was about quest, more than anything else. I spent most of my time, energy and  money  pursuing more of what I did not know. A little of that occurred in classrooms. Most occurred along the way: on the bus, in the lounge, on the steps, in organized group discussions, in church, at the park, as we read things together and responded, as we sat silent and listened and responded.

The people I spent most of my time with loved God. We came to love Him in very different ways, through very different experiences, in very different venues. That was a huge blessing. The people I spent some of my time with likewise differed from me in all those things. What we had in common, in a somewhat hostile climate of students, professors, administrators and city culture, was a genuine and proven love for God.

Growing up in Athens was the greatest blessing. The non-Christianess of the place helped me appreciate my brothers and sisters, to respect them and, therefore, believe them when they offered an understanding congruent or contrary to mine. I began to see that God is not static or boxable, that Jesus, a person, was Truth, and that Spirit, not law, was God’s chosen way of relating to man.

We used to sit around and discuss, not to find the answer to a question, but to find better questions to ask. We sat around everywhere, all the time talking about who God had shown, was showing Himself to be to us and hearing others’ accounts. We enjoyed the happy tension that brings about balance, the both/and of God if you will. We all sat around and pulled hard our way – we shared with passion what revelation we had been given and listened equally intently for our brothers’. It was not an exercise or even a game. It was a life style. A lifestyle that held us all in the faith through tragedy, trial and triumph. It is a lifestyle which helps us to lead in the Church in all arenas and understandings, all over the world, today. God gave me and mine a gift –  a huge gift.

I was cradled in Methodism, reared by the nuns, trained by the PCA’ers, filled anew with Wesley’s finest, inspired by artist Anglicans, cheered by the Church of God gang, and directed by Dominion doctrine. I am now at an Assembly of God church, who trains its leaders with contemplation and candor. I’ve been everywhere, though I am not a church hopper. But I have had seasons of exposure and seasons of study in most major perspectives. I am more, not less for it. What I have found is that the pursuit of answer is a trap. The pursuit of Jesus brings joy and peace.

I will go on record at this moment saying I am experiencing cabin fever (makes me think of the muppet movie). I need  quest in my life, deeper, wilder, more wonderful quest. I am out of the fuel those hours 25 years ago gave me, the fumes as well. I must move on in search of more – Jesus. I cannot, I will not sit stoically and die.

Upon encountering the disciples, Jesus said, “Come,  follow Me.”  It is safe to follow and totally unsafe to linger. And I trust those who follow after as well, as brothers.

I’m up for quest. How about you?

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