our own stories

December 12, 2004

Tonight we had a combined choir practice, children and adults, as we are preparing for tomorrow’s Christmas concert. I was sitting next to 2 boys I had not met before, seeing as how I am slowly getting to know people now in the new church. These boys were very clearly brothers, in the way that I recognized from my own experience of growing up in a family of a bunch of kids that all looked alike. In fact, they bore a resemblance to my two brothers at their age—about 7 and 9, I would guess. As a result, I caught myself stealing glances at them, grinning at their antics and resisting the urge to weird them out by reaching over and tussling their heads or something of the sort—you know, the kind of affectionate gestures that weird ladies did at Church when you were a child, making you roll your eyes and grimace . . .

After a bit, in between songs, I found some excuse to chat with the younger of the 2, and asked what his name was—Josiah, he said. “And your brother?” Isaiah—at that point, Isaiah joined our “conversation” as well. How coincidental, I thought, considering my long-time desire concerning names for my own children. So, I said to the boys, “You know—for ages now, I have wanted give my own children the names you have. If I get to have boys (and, of course, am not vetoed in my opinions J), my 3 top name choices are Isaiah, Josiah, and Micah.” Josiah stared at me for a moment, suspecting some sort of conspiracy, I now realize. Then, deciding I was innocent enough, I suppose, he said, That’s funny—our little brother’s name is Micah . . . Sure enough, their father, sitting on the other side of them, confirmed this to be a fact.

This is a small little instance, but it got me thinking for the rest of the night (hmmm . . . ok, so maybe one would be hard pressed to find something that does not get me thinking . . .). At any rate, I realized that the story-ness of life never ceases to amaze me. In small ways, and in great ones, life, if we will listen to it, graces us with the most intricately beautiful series of stories imaginable.

So often, it seems, we find all manner of distractions, of way to sort of check out of life for a bit and to not have to really live it. I am afraid that in writing out this thought, it will seem preachy of me somehow. The truth of it is that I have been, as Paul so aptly described is, “the worst of sinners” in this respect—I have simply been repeatedly graced by a God who gives 2nd chances, and who doesn’t give up on those children of His who just keep messing up. Oh Golly, now I’m crying, and my cat is peering up at me with a look of confused concern J That reminds me of times when I was a child, crying—I always wanted to be alone when I was crying, so would do silly things like the time I was reading a book that made me weep—Where the Red Fern Grows, now that I think about it. Embarrassed, I hid behind the armchair I had been sitting in so that I could cry in peace—knowing that the noise of our crazy household would keep any sound I made from being an issue. Our amazingly intuitive Boxer found me, though—she came over to lick the tears off my face and whimper along with me—and to preclude any possibility of my spot remaining hidden from the rest of the family!

But—before getting distracted by silly side notes—what I was going to say is that I cannot help but wonder if, were we to really be mindful of our own stories, we would be less inclined to get caught up in worldly distractions and more inclined to fall in love with the joys life has to give us.

This thought tonight is actually a continuation of one that began for me this summer. After a period of too much moving and work stresses combined with too little consistently meaningful human interaction, I was suddenly faced with the lonely lull that came between the completion of home-making and the beginning of the next semester of studies. I realized that when I did not have a challenge to tackle, there was little left to do in the days once the workday was over. And, because I was still getting used to the transition, I hadn’t taken the time to develop new meaningful activities to fill my down time. For a short period of time, I forget all that God had done in my life in the past and the gifts He had given to use, for His purposes, and just felt lost. It manifest itself in the way I just lost energy for social activities, and had an ever-earlier bedtime. That in itself, mind you, does not necessarily say anything, as I actually prefer going to bed at a decent hour and getting up early in the morning—I love the morning—the promise of the dawn and the peaceful excitement of the sunrise. But, this summer, I knew that I was just checking out of life—in fact, I would even shake my head at myself, when I went to bed before the sun had gone down—one night, I literally just whispered to myself that I was “done with the day” and ready to “check out” until time for work in the morning.

I also realize that there are times when a good, restful sort of slowing down is perfectly healthy and necessary. But, oftentimes, forgetting the ways God is working in our individual lives can lead to some form of depression. Or at least, that was my situation this summer—I certainly would not want to claim that to apply to other people’s lives as well.

So, my story is that this realization hit one night while I was driving home. I was returning from a “date” (I hate that word!), and, despite the fact that absolutely nothing came of it, that hint of possibility led to a barrage of memories. I was suddenly overcome by the force of the reality of my own past—the memories of being closely involved with another person and of all the vulnerability, pain, and joy that comes along with it. And, suddenly, I was weeping, as my mind flooded with the pains and joys of life—of my own life. It caught me off guard, forcing me to wonder why I was so surprised. It was simply because I had forgotten that life itself, even my own little insignificant life, can carry with it such a depth of experience that I needn’t rely on anything more than my own memory to provide as much meaning and teaching as anything I could imagine.

So, I have been remembering a lifetime of moments when life just overcomes me with its mystery, and when reality is so much more poignant than fiction could ever be. Doing so, I find my heart just ready to burst with more emotion than I feel like one heart can hold. How gracious is this God who gives us—each and every one of us—a life which, frighteningly short though it may be, is cram packed with moments of shocking significance and intensity. Oh, would that I could keep the eyes and ears of my heart wide open, for the remainder of this lifetime given me, to the magic and meaning of each moment . . .


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