By Heidi S. De Jonge
Apparently, Monday, the 23rd of April, was World Book Day. I love books, but I’m beginning to wonder if I am over-storied.
Think about it. How many stories are you in the middle of right now?
I read books to my elementary aged daughters before they go to sleep. My six-year-old and I are with James as he gets to know his fellow peach-dwellers in Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach. My nine-year-old and I are one night away from finishing the epic second book of the Wildwood Chronicles, by Colin Meloy. My eleven-year-old and I are slogging through the Council of Elrond in Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring.
In the last few years, I’ve added something new to their bedtime reading: my diaries from when I was their ages. In both the 4th and 6th grade years of my diary-story, we are approaching the drama of my elementary school’s annual Family Fun Night. “Mom, you were boy crazy.” Yes, girls. Yes, I was.
My husband and I also read a few minutes of a novel aloud to each other at night. A single special book mark has moved through dozens of books over the 15 years of our marriage.
I’m in the midst of Jeremiah in my morning devotions and in the gospel of John in my Eastertide sermon series. More stories.
And how often doesn’t my mind circle back to the episodes of the Netflix stories I’m watching (Lost in Space and Alias Grace)? Or to the lingering story lines of favourite shows with seasons not yet out on Netflix?
And what about the gripping stories of my parishioners, with their diagnoses of cancer and ALS? Beginning treatment… stopping treatment… no treatment options. The stories, also, of new life: pregnancy, marriage, baptism, new job. The stories of complicated life: breaking marriage, playground bullies, sexual assault, financial nightmares.
Add to these stories the political chronicles of my nation of citizenship (the US) and my nation of residency (Canada), the stories of war-ravaged countries around the world.
And add to those stories the hundreds of friends whose stories I follow on Facebook.
From the heavy narratives to the minutia – So. Many. Stories.
If you took your own inventory, I trust you would also find an over-abundance of story lines weaving through your mind and heart. And in it all, you and I are writing and reading our own life stories – complete with plot lines and chapters, conflict and drama, protagonists and antagonists, the sub-stories we make up about what others are thinking of us, and the strange reality that we do not know how far from the middle or the end of the story we are.
In this moment, notice the stories you hold. Notice how you hold them (some stories you hold gently, some tightly, some willingly, some with resistance).
Will you take a deep breath with me and remember God’s One Big Story?
We are created.
We are broken.
We are loved.
We are unfinished.
We are neverending.
Your love, GOD, is my song, and I’ll sing it!
I’m forever telling everyone how faithful you are.
I’ll never quit telling the story of your love—
how you built the cosmos
and guaranteed everything in it.
Your love has always been our lives’ foundation,
your fidelity has been the roof over our world.
Psalm 89:1-4, The Message