Have you ever considered the fact that STORY is how we live our lives? There is a beginning, middle, and end with numerous plots and subplots along the way. Think about how you tell a friend what you did over the holidays. We tell the events of our lives as a story and our friend gets it! Every life is just a BIG STORY whose theme or running thread is the meaning and purpose of that life. The same holds true for institutions, systems, etc. Everything has a STORY. The stories may look different, but ultimately they serve the purpose of identifying the spiritual in life—what gives meaning, purpose, and texture to living. Our life’s story helps us make sense of the big questions like: WHO AM I? and WHY AM I HERE?
In the African-American tradition, stories have always been important to maintain the legacy of a peoples cut off from their own truth and reality and forcibly placed in a reality not of their choosing. The stories of my childhood, young adulthood, and even now are full of faith and endurance giving hope and resilience to all who hear them. The stories of the African diaspora are even larger filling up the hunger for transcendence and spiritual meaning.
Although the Holy Bible is a library of books and a glorious piece of literature, it is also the story of a people who believed that the Divine Presence was very much a part of their lives and so they weaved that Presence into the stories they told. The stories of their lives were filled with stories of that Presence and their interactions with it. It is an overarching story of the human and Divine Presence in one accord…as one. Through it we hear the voice of Holy Mystery calling the human being back into communion, as well as the on-again-off-again sometimes-hot, sometimes-cold love of the human being for Holy Mystery. Through the biblical story we can discover and explore a GOD bigger and more awe-inspiring than any human could have ever imagined on their own.
So now, I’ve said all of that to say this: you might not be one for New Year’s resolutions, but change is coming to your life this year as each previous year has already proven. And sometimes the story we tell of our lives requires our own personalized touch of change instead of just allowing things to happen to us. So try this one on for size. Consider reading or re-reading one of the many stories of Scripture aloud. Try David, the boy king, in 1 and 2nd Samuel for example. Read, not to critique but to hear what is being said; not to judge but to wonder what do you hear the words saying to you. Hear the story as if for the first time. Read it in your own voice. Allow your ears to pick up the sound of the words and imagine them flowing down into the center of your chest…into your heart. That’s where the message is truly heard; together with your head, it is your heart that will bear the fruit of communion with the One who loves you. It is always our hearts that bear witness to the Mystery of the Divine Presence in everything and everywhere. That is the Christian story after-all, is it not? God enfleshed in creation and moving into our human neighborhood?
I pray that this new year and new decade bring more LIGHT to you than you could ever imagine with much Peace and great LOVE.