… read the Slice for today. The phrase looked pretty and its explanation thoughtful – “personal stories as the only locus of rich meaning open to us” – so I left the devotional open while running a number of other things. Just let it sit. Read it a couple of times, prayed, thought, ran around and did some other things…
“The most remarkable gift of the master narrative I have chosen to tell and retell is that the storytelling is not over. I am instead freed to hear and tell my petites histoires in light of the whole story, which is yet unfolding even as it proclaims a definitive end. Which means, that sometimes the stories I tell myself are mercifully corrected by far greater I am statements than my own. That is to say, the quiet narrative that insists I am alone is told beside, “I am the good shepherd who searches for even one that is lost.” The subtle fable of personal control is confronted by a story of life, death, and resurrection; a remarkable beginning as an infant in Bethlehem and a far more remarkable end.”
Then I read a letter. And two others. With each one, I grinned more and more broadly. And petites histoires came back to me 🙂
“… I am planning a trip to Las Vegas next week to see my new great grandson,whose name is James Anthony. My two granddaughters from Caliornia are also coming and we are going to have a family photo taken. I must confess I am getting a bit excited. I do get a wheelchair because I have to change in Detroit. I am always happy when I get on the plane.”
“Thank you for your e-mails. Being home again I can finally read them and write back to you… Your journeys far from home have been interesting and I think good for you both to be away and seeing new scenery and new friends as well as ‘old’ friends. It looks as though this year away has been good. No doubt you will be returning with a refreshed mind and a new outlook which hopefully will be refreshing to others and help them to realize the benefit of such things. It was a difficult and wise decision and one that has been good. God is with you and each of us and won’t let you down. You are close to Him and He to you, and that relationship can only be good. Each part of your life will be lived knowing that closeness. The JOY that brings can only help in whatever we do.”
“So there I was in… and I thought of you a lot!! I sat over on the left at the back as you enter from O’Connor. I think I know how you feel when you say G. wanted you to do something or discover something – so I was feeling the same way Sunday. He must have wanted me to go that Sunday and hear the sermon… Anyway, something made me go there on Sunday – I guess G.!! – and it… gave me strength. I almost fell off the bench when the minister made the link between… I am going to focus on the power of G. … So I have been drawn closer to G. this week, been thinking of you and seeing you in my mind…”
The seemingly small stories. Stories about themselves. Stories told in light of the whole story – however much they understand of it.
They may not know each other, and lead very different lives. Yet they all point to Him.
And because it’s Him, I grin. There can be no other response. 🙂
Our petites histoires may be our starting points for discovering meaning (and discovering Him!). But sooner or later – if we would be faithful on the narrow broken road – we see that our small stories connect in life-giving ways, bringing new dimensions to what we thought we already knew. The more they connect, the more convinced we are that He is real, He is personal and He is still at work today. Quite deliciously, when He has revealed Himself this way and we respond with belief, He reveals even more of Himself, His purposes and plans. A virtuous cycle of eternal joy.