Journal Entries: The Value of Storytelling and a Lifestyle of Margin
I am, indeed a storyteller and I deeply value storytelling in its many, many variations. I felt compelled to share these two entries from my personal journal regarding a deeply meaningful personal and spiritual experience I had surrounding storytelling.
Wednesday December 3, 2020, 10:00 AM – A Gift to a Dying Grandmother
This morning as I was listening to the book “The Weight of Glory” by CS Lewis, I was captivated by a small incident shared by the books narrator, Ralph Cosham. It was about a friend of his who wanted to bring a gift from the countryside to his dying grandmother. But since it was wintertime, he could only find a sprig of Pussy Willow. When the boy brought them to her while on her deathbed, she pressed them to her cheek and said, “They are grand, my love, and enough.”
Upon hearing this, my heart was pierced with the poignancy of this exchange and I felt compelled to pause life and ponder this so I could extract its beauty and meaning.
AN UNADORNED MOMENT
What a beautiful, simple and poetic moment between two human beings. Yet if it were not for the author to write about it, and his reader’s read it, this simple exchange would have been known only by the two individuals who actually experienced it (and the boy's friend; the author of the story). This beautifully unadorned moment in time would have remained unnoticed and invisible. Not that it's a bad thing to have a sweet, tender, poignant moment between two people remain forever private between them and never reach the outer world. There are, as we can imagine, billions of exchanges which take place between people, or between individuals and God, and even experiences within one’s soul which are never shared with anyone. Therefore, I am very grateful the author took to time to share it so I could hear it. For in the hearing of this story, my heart was pierced with a haunting; a longing to embrace the beauty that was created by the story told of these people, who are strangers to me, which caused me to be elevated in soul and uplifted in spirit.
MORE THAN A SIMPLE EXCHANGE
The story of this simple exchange of a flower is something much more. As I pause to ponder, I’ve realized the grandmother's loving reception of the humble gift, which the grandson was insecure to give, caused the gift and the giver to be seemingly transformed into something transcendent. Or, perhaps her words caused the invisible veil to be dropped and the crown of royalty adorning the gift and the giver, which had always been there, was now revealed in all its splendor.
This is the beauty I perceive in this story. I’m thankful I took the time, by putting other parts of my life on pause, to unravel it today. In doing so, my existence feels richer for the journey. I have collected a poignancy of being by acknowledging the depth in which I naturally experience the world around me. I feel as though I have deposited a hundred thousand dollars into my bank account today – the bank accounts of the soul and of the heavens. My personal wealth and the value of my soul-currency has skyrocketed. For in the pondering of this story’s deeper meaning and discovering why it is in fact beautiful, I too have unveiled the crown of splendor which resides upon my own head.
Wednesday, December 2, 2020 1:30 PM – there’s more to the story…
This afternoon I’ve had such a deep, profound and unusual experience; I must chronicle it.
After I wrote in my journal this morning about my feelings and experience with the story of the grandson giving a gift to his grandmother, my spirit could not move past the experience. Writing about it didn’t seem enough. I felt there was more, much more I needed to extract from it. Or perhaps more accurately; there was more God had intended for me to extract from it.
So, as I was driving while running an errand, I had time in the car to worship, sing in the spirit and ponder more of the story. I became so aware of the depth of spiritual romance and passion it was awakening in me. My soul and spirit were becoming consumed with an unquenchable fire; a holy passionate fire from God towards me and me towards God. A euphoric, holy romance was swelling in my heart; in my whole body.
As I continued on driving and worshiping, I was asking the Lord, 'what do I do with what is going on? And what exactly is going on?'
I then began weeping almost uncontrollably because of all the various sensations and revelations I was experiencing. I sensed I just needed to sit in the middle of the story - with my holy imagination - to consume and absorb the dense, supernatural miracles, messages, experiences and encounters it had to offer me.
THE STORY-BRIDGE TRAMPOLINE
So, as I fully entered my holy imagination with Jesus, I saw a bridge made up of thick bungee material that was crisscrossed over one another. It was like a trampoline in a way. I was sitting on the bridge; the grandson was on one end of the trampoline-bridge and the grandmother was on the other. Below the bridge was nothing that could be seen. So I sat there on the ‘story-bridge trampoline’ and just allowed myself to absorb, consume and abide in the mysterious space, substances and miracles of this story God intended to be given to whomever slowed down long enough to sense, perceive and receive within this invisible space and existence.
I then realized, not only the first initial revelations of beauty I had chronicled earlier today were accessed because of the story, but now this profound spiritual experience I was having with God was also a byproduct of the story. This “sphere” I was experiencing didn’t really exist until it was told by someone (the storyteller) and then read by the reader (me) who did not merely read it and move on but paused to consider it. Hummm…
WHY STORIES, GOD?
Since I have always been passionate about stories and storytelling, I’ve been asking God over the last few years ‘what is the purpose of stories and why am I so drawn to them? God, you are the Master Storyteller, but why? Why stories?'
So, when I was in midst of the deepest experience with the story of the grandmother’s death, I felt God was telling me the purpose of “story” is to be a vessel to convey eternal truths and even encounters with God. It seems the Lord desired to use this story-experience to further develop my philosophy of storytelling itself. So, what do I understand about stories and storytelling?
Well, to start with, I believe there are two main spheres of existence. The supernatural sphere which is not physically seen by the human eye and the natural sphere which can be physically seen by the human eye because we exist there.
THE INFINITE AND THE FINITE
At the core of the supernatural sphere/ realm, is where God exists. And God is infinite that is, without limits; He is limitless. But the natural world/sphere, where humans exist, is finite and limited. There is a stark division between the seen and unseen worlds, therefore we need help seeing into God's sphere; His supernatural home.
God uses stories as sort of a slide, tunnel, portal or bridge through which he releases infinite revelations into our finite sphere for the purpose of 1) teaching us about our finite world, which was birthed from the infinite and 2) to teach us about the infinite -- both for the purpose of revealing Himself and drawing us to Him.
Infinite is capable of understanding all that is finite (since what is infinite encompasses what is finite) but finite is not capable of understanding what is infinite without the help of what is Infinite (which is God himself). And God very much desires to communicate with us. Therefore he develops languages for the finite (humans) to communicate with the infinite (God) and for the finite to communicate to 'fellow finites' about the Infinite.
God also uses many other "languages", such as nature, music, creativity, metaphysics, science, relationships etc. to communicate with us; the finite. And one of these finite languages is stories. With this outlook, it seems all segments and portions of life have the potential for the extraordinary. For nestled within each element, no matter how vast or minuscule, abides a sort of other-worldly, message-in-a-bottle from our Divine Creator. Who will take the time to discover them?
A LIFESTYLE OF MARGIN
But what if I chose not to take the time to consider this story? What if I had just brushed it aside and said, “I have other things that are pressing to do” even if those pressing things are worthwhile and important? Thankfully, I chose to listen to the Holy Spirit's compelling prompting which lead me down this particular pathway today.
I am most thankful that I have spent years transforming my life into a lifestyle which allows for room, lots and lots of room, for margin in my life. Margin to allow for a disrupted schedule because I continue to learn how to live out my belief that schedules and to do lists are not created to drive me - I am not to be a slave to my schedule. Rather, I have chosen this counter-cultural perspective and lifestyle where schedules and to-do lists do not exist to drive me. If they do, then I am their slave. Rather, I believe schedules and to-do lists exist to support and serve me as I serve God. Which means they should be alterable at any time at my Master’s discretion.
Now that I have journaled about this experience to this point, I am going to spend more time with Jesus, through my Holy Imagination, on that story’s bridge-trampoline and see what other priceless, ever-present, eternal nourishment and adventures He has for me to experience, consume and enjoy…
Thank you, Lord, for leading me into this magnificent lifestyle of wide margins so I could allow today's schedule to include plenty of time for this life-altering, life-giving supernatural experience which was potent with meaning, revelation, significance, and purpose.