What is in a story?

What is in a story?


The rain has stopped and there are promising signs of sunshine – I rise early and have some breakfast in Starbucks which at 6 45am is too full! I share a table with a young black woman who is reading her Bible. This, I have found here, is very common. How many of you have your Bible open at this hour?  The advantage of sitting in a throng of people is that there are all kinds of things going on to distract me from penning a few more postcards.

I have been thinking about the nature of narrative and story. I become aware that there are many such narratives going on around me. There is the story of these 20 or so people who are here – where they live and what they will do today – why some look so happy and others a bit sad or tired. The assistants complain about their area manager and struggle to meet the demands of the queue of coffee addicts! I know that one of them is a student struggling to meet College bills – that is one story. The young woman opposite reads Luke’s Gospel – clearly another story – by which (I am guessing) she is trying to live.  A couple walking their dog are disagreeing about something – I cannot hear but the force of exchange gives the impression of conflict ! That is another story.

And so I could go on. Life is made up of a whole series of interlocking, passing, simple, unseen, rich and poor, stories. Some are heard and some have yet to be told. Some we are in control of and others we will never be able to influence. For some there will be an important element of fantasy in these stories – wondering what might be if that happened in the future. Some of the elements of the story can never be objectively proven – can that area manger be all bad? Surely the couple have misunderstood each other somewhere along the line ? Some of the stories we forget and can never access in the treasure chest of memory.

For some of the children going to school the story is just beginning – I hope that I might somewhere in the middle of mine – for others the story will end soon – perhaps even today. And for all of us there are many stories gathered up into one life – we are the central characters in a drama of inner and outer events that have meaning.

Learning to listen and articulate these stories is, I think, important. We contemplate our path and try to see if there is any encoded wisdom. I want to know more about this process and especially to see if religion can help us in this intentional process of recollection. It is fascinating to see how others (especially older people) express what they have experienced, what they feel, what is remembered, what has been understood, what we are and what we believe in and why.

So – you will see – amidst the art and food and buildings there is this adventure – now to the library to read more.

Here is a question for you

What would the title of your autobiography be??


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