If we don’t run over scripture stories as we live, we leave behind sacred influences and replace them with secular ones. Stories are food for the soul. We rely on stories from the news for our assessment of the times. From entertainment venues for escape. From comedy pitches and jokes for relief. We exchange gossip as story-telling.
Stories form the basis for almost every human encounter in analogies, teaching, and political persuasion.
Image by Watercolor Artist
By John Pearring
Cataloged in scriptures, stories from God account for a considerable portion of the sacred writings we collect and repeat over and over in our religious gatherings. They’re mainly challenging tales, but always with teaching and formation that we rely upon throughout our lives.
If we don’t run over scripture stories as we live, we leave behind sacred influences and replace them with secular ones. Stories are food for the soul. We rely on stories from the news for our assessment of the times. From entertainment venues for escape. From comedy pitches and jokes for relief. We exchange gossip as story-telling. Stories form the basis for almost every human encounter in analogies, teaching, and political persuasion.
Why is that? Our lives comprise a long string of stories and experiences that weave us into adults, citizens, and religious folks. We need stories because there are so dang many things we have to deal with.
The struggles in most folks’ hearts today come from very similar worries. Money, authority, and courage round out some of the top items we discuss with friends and family. Typically, our business associates, shopping encounters, and bureaucratic run-ins don’t follow the same patterns of discussions. So, the intimacy of sharing struggles and worries with other human beings almost always falls upon friends and families.
Hassling over the prices of things and the arduous steps to get things done can be exchanged with retailers, business partners, and governing bodies. Not with intimate details, however. If we’re getting personal with associates and strangers, we’re likely off the rails or getting very close to needing therapy. People will tell us stories they know about folks who have similar problems, both to get us to leave and to help us out.
In our more salient moments, still able to hold our cards close to the vest, we will search out folks we know better to test our thinking on things and to seek advice. We may not be sure of their concern for us, but family and friends develop oaths of shared allegiance and love, even if silently mouthed or expressed by the touch of a hand on our shoulder. "I've been there," some will tell us, filling us with hope with their comforting tales.
When struggles rattle our emotional stability, we know we’re not alone within our families. Shouting matches and tears of forgiveness build stronger ties in a family. There are similar shared compassion and dearness with friends, though usually not with the familial extremes. It's later that these events will be told, teasing of course, but the memories are still dear to us.
Stories told to each other, reminders that we’re loved or valued or responsible for others, assist us through all of our struggles. They continue to mold us, but mostly they remind us of principles we hold dear.
Many rely on scripture to assist us, whether we read it directly, hear the readings preached at Church services, or share with friends at bible studies or religious education. Our religious life isn’t about rules and procedures. It’s about hearing God speak to us.
I dare say that reading scripture, worshipping at a liturgy, or studying with fellow Christ followers are not common among everyone I know. However, my circles of fellowship this late in life have funneled into the like-minded and similarly religious.
At Church today, I chatted for a few minutes after Mass, and the continual story-telling struck me in each conversation. I have a newfound appreciation for scripture stories now. Something to look forward to with every person I meet.