Issue 184 - Telling Stories
October 2018

A recent essay quoted Garrison Keillor: "It’s a good time, winter, for all of us. It’s a time when all the things that we’ve been postponing for months can now be put off for a good while longer…. Winter brings us back to basics: food and heat and of course the obligation that we all have to tell stories, which is why God put us here after all." That set us to thinking, about the stories we tell....

Stories that Celebrate
Do we, indeed, have a God-given obligation to tell stories?

Some scholars suggest we have no choice. In a classic essay , Stephen Crites argued that all experience has an inherent narrative quality, and that all people make sense of the story of their own lives in the context of the larger, “sacred stories” of their own culture.

Recently, Anne Lamott, made a similar point in her usual, down-to-earth way: “Stories hold us together. Stories teach us what is important about life, why we are here and how it is best to behave.”*

It is certainly striking that the heart of both the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament are stories: the stories of creation and exodus in the Torah and the stories of Jesus in the Gospels.

Whether or not you think you have an “obligation” to tell stories, the fact is that we do tell stories and hear stories. So what kind of stories do you tell? And what kind of stories do you read or listen to?

At least where I live, we are fed a steady diet of negative “attack ads” in the political campaigns. Social media, for all the good it offers, also serves up a steady diet of insults and vituperation, not to mention an unhealthy dose of “fake news.”

What a contrast to these words of the Apostle Paul: “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 2:8, NRSV)!

Poet Tania Runyan echoes this sentiment in a recent essay , encouraging us, despite all the anger and invective, to celebrate the good: “Give yourself to the true, noble, lovely, and excellent practice of praise.”
*Anne Lamott, Almost Everything , Riverhead Books, 2018
All Stories Are True
Stories are Beings. You invite them to live within you. They’ll teach you what they know in return for being a good host. When they’re ready to move on they’ll let you know. Then you pass them on to someone else. (Cree Storyteller)*

As we listen to our own stories, more and more they give us our voice. They rest buried deep within until they become brave enough to emerge. The ones named “Beauty” spark holy awe. The ones named “Truth” make the countenance glow. The ones named “Goodness” quicken the living Spirit. Surprisingly, we learn our stories by listening to the rhythm of the narrative of our days and nights. And then…

Sir Ramakrishna was asked” Why, God being so good, is there evil in the world?” He answered: “To thicken the plot.”*

Master storyteller, theologian, and author, Megan McKenna , regales us with numerous stories in her many books, and one of my favorites is Keepers of the Story (*above quotes, p. 45) and which is also a handbook on the art of storytelling. During the years Megan lived in San Antonio she mentored me in storytelling as well as in finding my voice. I think of that beautiful gift very often; the older I get the more grateful I am. I have quoted her often: “There is only one Story.” She writes: “The mystery of the one Story is forever giving birth to expression, to transformation and transfiguration and redemption as we live, endure, and die.” (p. x ) Megan always begins with the first rule of storytelling: “All stories are true, some of them actually happened.”

What story within you is begging to be released, expressed, transformed, transfigured, and redeemed?

--by Jan
Pueblo People
If these Pueblo People could talk what would their stories reveal to us?
Dr. Fred Craddock was one of the best pulpit storytellers of the last generation. This clip demonstrates his delightful - and meaningful - use of stories.
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Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries