Sometime in the last couple weeks I read an article about the power of stories. I should have bookmarked it to save it, but I didn’t. Now that I am retired I no longer bookmark or save articles like this in the file folders which I used for so many years. But what I remember and why I remember it is this. The thesis of the article was that the stories we remember and the stories we tell and retell ourselves shape who we are and how we act, particularly in times of difficulty and decision. I found myself thinking about this not just in terms of my own life, but also, given the deep divide in our country, how the stories we remember and tell shape our public perception and discourse. In the stories we tell…
Is their enough?
Does goodness prevail?
Is life about survival of the fittest?
Is there hope?
Do we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps?
Who is our neighbor?
Who should we be afraid of?
Does that long arc of history really bend in the direction of justice?
Then yesterday I read this interview with Reza Aslan by Daniel Jose Camacho of Sojourners. On of the things he says in that interview is that religion is storytelling. Aslan’s insight resonated with me because the part of Christian and Hebrew scriptures which resonate with me are the stories.
Moses at the burning bush.
Do bushes around us also burn inviting us to something new?
Jesus feeding the 5000.
What does it take for us to feed those around us who are hungry?
The accounts of the resurrection of Jesus.
Is new life possible when we find ourselves surrounded by darkness and despair?
I could go on.
In light of these articles I have found myself thinking about several questions.
- At this age and stage of my life what stories am I telling myself about responsibility and courage and learning new things and growing older?
- How do I begin to let go of stories which are not helpful?
- How do I begin to learn new stories which are?
- So many of the stories that have meaning for me are rooted in the Bible. For that I am grateful. But, for those who have never heard those stories in a meaningful, life-giving way, what stories do they draw on?
- What stories which I/we have forgotten which would be helpful if we remembered again?
I am sure there are more…questions that is.
I have loved good stories for as long as I can remember.
And, I agree with the author of the first article.
The stories we tell ourselves and each other are powerful.
Which leads me to this…
What are the stories you tell yourself about who you are and and what you value and our place and role in and relationship to the world around us?