You are reading the RISE series. Read more from this series of articles.
Now, I haven’t always written, but I’ve always thought in story. Just ask my friends. Especially in the early stages of our friendship, the time when you share your back story and I share mine. And share mine. And share mine. And when you wonder secretly if I’m ever going to stop talking.
When I was in high school I had this amazing friend who also happened to be my mom. She would listen to me. Not just listen, yeah . . . uh huh . . . okay (when is she gonna shut up?). Not listen like my boyfriends who I could catch whistling “a little less talk and a lot more action” under their breath when a dark night and starry ride opened my lips and heart. But really listen.
And here’s the thing – I thought I was really interesting.
But then I grew up.
People starting coming into my life who were not as interested in my stories, in fact, they didn’t even pretend to be. So I sorta stopped telling them.
I began to talk about what they found interesting. Recipes. Politics. Job interviews. Vehicle registration. Biblical interpretation. Insurance quotes. Spatial organizers. Cloth diapers. But I never liked it. Unless I could catch the hem of the story garment, somehow woven through these bloodless conversations. If I could find a character, however stagnant, however hidden, within the conversation, my imagination would catch fire and my eyes would burn tears and I would know that life – the real live, living part of it – was less about math for me and more about art. The art of story.
We read Frankenstein in eleventh grade. The teacher was this little tiny blond woman with big hair, like a swollen halo surrounding her pretty delicate features. She would walk fast through the cafeteria, fast enough that her halo would wiggle and jolt back and forth, always fluffed but with not quite enough hairspray to withstand all the shaking. She had an easy grin and understanding eyes, but it was her hair that I remember the most.
And I sat in my metal chair, shifting to find that elusive most-comfortable position, elbows resting on the pine-veneer table top. There was always that mysterious crusty edge along the side of the desk which made me wonder why the student before me hadn’t used a tissue. We would laugh and joke as kids do when they enter a classroom. Until. She would step up before the blackboard, climb astride an empty chair in the first row, and crack the book. I would catch my breath. The others would roll their eyes and mutter something about a stupid story, but not me. I would watch her eyes light up, toss of that wild hair, and she would be off. Story after story. Reading Mary Shelly’s fascinating tale with such animation, such passion, that I began to believe it somewhere deep down into my Doc Martens, I had story in my blood, too.
That was my first clue that I was different.
Because once, I unglued my gaze from my teacher’s enthusiastic diction only to glance across the aisle and see my classmate sleeping. Head on desk, slumped into folded arms, and the tinniest bit of drool just oozing out around his mouth. I turned away in quiet shock. (But never wondered again at that crusty stuff along the edge of the pine-veneer.) He was not hanging on her every word? What, I ask you, what on earth could be more riveting than classic literature . . . ?
So not everyone loves this.
And this was news to me.
It’s not anymore. I try, really, I do, not to spin a yarn in response to every question you ask me. But it’s all just so interesting. And the facts about which you inquired, they just connect to this part here and that part there, and don’t you just hear the mysteries of life revealed in the poignant climax of this part . . . ?
So I began to write it down.
And it was good for me.
I began to sense things peeking through the thin veneer of the story pouring out of my fingertips that had more appeal than drool on a desk. Because don’t stories, with their way of coming in slant, convey things to the human heart that we are impoverished to find words to address directly? They are eternal truths, life’s deepest, and perhaps most wordless enigmas. Things that breach all the flimsy walls humanity tries to erect. Rumors of the wellspring of joy and sorrow, where solidarity is perhaps fleetingly tangible. And they could only be glimpsed through an encounter with a story alive. I began to notice the things that made my heart beat faster. I began to explore why it was that a lump formed in my throat, or I snorted in laughter erupting. I let the tears in my eyes talk to me. And I didn’t talk back. Didn’t hold back.
I let the story rise. I bid it stand and walk.
This, I think, more than anything has been the rise to walk in newness of life pronounced at my baptism. It has felt like a homecoming, like a fulfillment of a dream. Giving voice to the story within has awakened me to the one being written in all my days, whether tearful or joyful.
It has brought me face to face with the Risen One, the Living Christ, who still holds the pen.
In April, our writers are sharing stories on the theme Rise, telling everyday tales of awakening to the mystery of the resurrection during Eastertide. Together, we’ll celebrate and ponder the message of Christ through the lens of our unique perspectives. And we’re giving away one copy of Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg to a lucky person who comments – one every Monday in April. Winners will be announced every Tuesday morning here.
Then on Monday, April 29, join us in welcoming our guest writer, Margaret Feinberg, popular Bible teacher, speaker and author, and link up your own story on the prompt Rise. One story will be selected from the collection and featured here on Bible Dude. It could be yours.
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