I've been thinking a lot about story again lately...about living stories and about telling stories; probably because it seems to be popping up wherever I go. It's like we are all incredibly unique stories that have been beautifully spoken (or sung, as Lewis so vividly describes in The Magician's Nephew) and written by the Master craftsman; a true wordsmith who uses every word with great care and intention, leaving nothing wasted. Maybe that's why He calls us His masterpieces (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)! And, at the very same time, we are also somehow, mysteriously and remarkably, in the process of writing our own story. I'm not really sure how it all works, but I really like it. A lot. It makes me smile inside. Only God could come up with something as wild and as wonderful as that. It also made me think about This Post from a year and a half ago; one I really liked at the time and like even more a year and a half later.
And here's some more of the stuff about story that I've been chewing on lately...
If I have a hope, it's that God sat over the dark nothing and wrote you and me, specifically, into the story, and put us in with the sunset and the rainstorm as though to say, "Enjoy your place in my story. The beauty of it means you matter, and you can create within it even as I have created you." (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)
...there is a knowing I feel that guides me toward better stories, toward being a better character. I believe there is a Writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness. (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)
"You're writing another book about yourself?" Jordan asked. He was sitting at the counter in the kitchen eating a bowl of cereal. He had his laptop open and was choosing the starting lineup for his college fantasy basketball team. He'd been playing the game for a year and finally had a division one team. He said he was going to start his best defense, because defense wins championships.
"I'm not writing a book. I'm not talking about a book. I'm talking about me. I don't think I'm telling a good story."
"I think you tell good stories. Lots of people think so."
"I tell good stories in books. I don't live good stories."
Jordan poured more milk in his cereal. He was looking at me while pouring the milk. He was squinting his eyes a little and furrowing his brow. He stopped pouring the milk. He kept looking at me for ten seconds or more, like he was studying me.
"You're right," he finally said. "You aren't living a good story."
"That's what I was saying."
"I see," he said.
"What do I do about that?"
"You're a writer. You know what to do."
"No, I don't."
Jordan looked at me with his furrowed brow again. "You put something on the page," he said. "Your life is a blank page. You write on it."
(A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller)
Of the six million species on the planet, only man makes language. Words. What's more--in evidence of the Divine--we string these symbols together and then write them down, where they take on a life of their own and breathe outside of us. Story is the bandage of the broken. Sutures of the shattered. The tapestry upon which we write our lives. Upon which we lay the bodies of the dying and the about-to-come-to-life. And if it's honest, true, hiding nothing, revealing all, then it is a raging river and those who ride it find they have something to give--that they are not yet empty.
Critics cry foul, claiming the tongue is a bloody butcher that blasphemes, slices, slanders, and damns--leaving scars, carnage, the broken the beaten. Admittedly, story is a double-edged scimitar, but the fault lies not in the word but in the hand that wields the pen. Not all stories spew, cower, and retreat. Some storm the castle. Rush in. Stand between. Wrap their arms around. Spill secrets. Share their shame. Return. Stories birth our dreams and feed the one thing that never dies. (Unwritten by Charles Martin)
"Katie, turn around, walk back through. Write your own story. Start with a clean page. One with no words. Where the ending, the next turn, next twist, next reveal, next conflict that demands resolution, is unwritten. And where the resolution is unscripted. And when you get there, standing in the spotlight on a pedestal made for one, spill your bag of pieces on the stage and tell the world--tell them all the way back in the cheap seats--"This was once me...but it isn't anymore." (Unwritten by Charles Martin)
"When I was young, given my general physical appearance, I was told that I was unbecoming. Since then, I've tried to unbecome me. But doing so was like dying every day." She turned to me. "I went to bed dead. Woke up dead. Never knowing who I saw in the mirror. Ever fearful of resurrecting someone I can't be." She shook her head and grabbed my hand. "Peter...changed that."
A confident smile. "He taught me how to live without a script. A life where I get to write the words that become me." (Unwritten by Charles Martin)
The rabbis guide their people with stories; ministers usually guide with ideas and theories. We need to become storytellers again, and so to multiply our ministry by calling around us the great witnesses who in different ways offer guidance to doubting hearts.
One of the remarkable qualities of the story is that it creates space. We can dwell in a story, walk around, find our own place. The story confronts but does not oppress; the story inspires but does not manipulate. The story invites us to an encounter, a dialog, a mutual sharing.
A story that guides is a story that opens a door and offers space in which to search and boundaries to help us find what we seek, but it does not tell us what to do or how to do it. The story brings us into touch with the vision and so guides us. Weisel writes, "God made man because he loves stories." As long as we have stories to tell to each other there is hope. (The Living Reminder by Henri J. M. Nouwen)