We need to bring story-time back.
As kids, it was the last thing we did each day, when parents or loved would read us one of our favorite books or tell us one of our favorite bedtime stories.
It was one of the best parts of kindergarten (apart from all-out free time with a room full of toys) — sitting on the carpet at the feet of our teacher, who was so skilled at telling captivating stories of Clifford, Winnie the Pooh, Things 1 & 2, Curious George and the like.
Story-time was an essential part of growing up, of learning about our family, our town, the environment, and our wider world. And then we got older, and stories suddenly became less frequent. Though our experiences vary, at some point we all outgrew story-time, and instead began being discouraged from telling stories, for fear that our imagination might overpower the facts of the day.
(“What really happened today? How did this get broken? Don’t tell a story!”)
And then we get even older, and hearing those first stories seem childlike. We want the kid’s books taken out of our rooms. We are not very interested in hearing other people’s stories, just our own. This was certainly the case for my adolescent self during our annual family reunions. All I wanted to do was play with my brothers and cousins, but all the “old folks” kept wanting to tell me stories from when I was just a kid, or ever worse, go into stories from their own [seemingly ancient] childhood stories. Those didn’t interest me at all at the time, but they sure do now.
We need to bring back story-time.
Telling stories connects us to our childhood imaginations, which turn out to be just as important as we get older.
Telling stories helps us stay creative. Creative in arts, music, writing, planning, envisioning, playing, living.
Telling stories keeps us honest, both about where we’ve been and how we’ve become who we are.
Telling stories allows us to connect more deeply with others and see potential points of intersection with their lives and ours.
But beyond all this, telling stories helps us to work out our faith and even pass it along to others.
After all, that’s what the Bible is all about – the great story of our great God working in, through, and around the lives of ordinary people.
These stories are only on our smartphone apps today because they were told again and again and again to new generations, back before most people could even read or write. Yet somehow, through the act of re-telling the stories of ancestors from long ago, each new age found new meaning and connection with the ongoing story of God at work in this world.
So let’s keep telling our stories. But let’s listen to the stories of others, too. It may seem a little childish, but remember what Jesus said about childish things:
“Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matt 19:14)
I imagine Jesus gathering those children onto a dirt rug, just like my kindergarten teacher did (minus the dirt), eager to launch into that sacred act of story-telling. And I bet those kids all ran to their homes, eager to tell those stories again to anyone who would listen. That’s pretty much how the Gospel is supposed to work, right?
Along the Journey…