“Once upon a time…” I think those are four of my favorite words. What is it about stories? Why are they so captivating? How do they manage to all at once engage, captivate and inspire us? Why are we the only species to share them? Tell them? Live for them?
I was the kid who had to have the book pried from her white-knuckled grip at the dinner table or who would lay in bed at night promising herself “just one more chapter” into the wee hours of the morning (oh wait, I still do that). I loved that stories could instantly take me from my quiet bedroom to a dark night in the French countryside, or a humid jungle with the calls of birds and monkeys echoing in my ears, or the damp, dark recesses of a dungeon. Stories are magic.
The universe is made of stories, not atoms. —M. Rukeyser
But more than an escape or adventure – I think stories are who we are. Even stories without a happy ending resonate with us and keep us turning pages. These stories are great because they are true and I think these can be the most inspiring of all. They show us how to live our story more fully.
“Sometimes story says best what must be said.” -C.S. Lewis
These are the stories of lives intertwining, of stories crossing over one another and combining in ever-complex ways. Its why we love shows like Lost and Touch where seemingly disconnected individuals become swept up in something bigger than themselves. Their stories suddenly transect and the individual is never the same.
We live stories and therefore we may use fictional stories as an escape…to a place where the hero always wins and the quest is always completed. But we can also read them (tell them, sing them, preach them) as a way of connecting – of saying “I’ve been there” or “I’m here for you” or “It gets better.”
I’m blessed to be a part of a community that takes story-telling seriously.
I think spirituality has as much to do with the pew you sit in as it does how aware you are of the story you are writing – how open you are to the blessed and purposeful way your story intersects with others.
“To be a person is to have a story to tell.” —Isak Dinesen