The Importance of Storytelling
Bonjou!! Greetings from chilly Naperville, Illinois. I hope this post finds you all preparing for the holidays with your families and enjoying some time of relaxation together amidst the hustle and bustle of the season.
I write to you today from a favorite coffee shop near my home in the Chicago suburbs. As I am home for the holiday season and spending many hours sharing stories with family and close friends, I have felt blessed for a chance to reflect on the first phase of our work together in Haiti. Many of you who know me know that storytelling and the sharing of fun adventures is one of my favorite endeavors in life – whether at the coffee shop, pub, at home around the fire, or at various remote locations around the world, I think the sharing of stories reminds us of the amazing stories that we are living. . . or could be living.
As I am back in American culture and observing the activities around me I am reminded of the blessed purity of life that I experienced for long stints in the Himalayas of India and Nepal and the jungles of the South Pacific – such a purity, while not impossible, is very difficult to find in the US. In cultures that are not permeated by technological advance and the extremely easy gratification of many desires, people spend a lot more time engaged in reflection and telling stories together. The USA has a lot to offer, and the technology that we are privileged to have at our fingertips adds much to “quality of life.” However, In my first week back in the US after several months in Haiti, I notice how much less time people spend sharing stories and pursuing fun adventures. Admittedly, I notice the change in myself – looking at my watch more, losing an hour or two in front of the TV, the necessity of tight schedules even when I am technically on “R and R.” Here is the point . . .
You all can probably identify the aspects of your life that have made your heart race with excitement and nervousness. Sure, every story and adventure looks different for each individual, but the important pursuits in life remain those that take us far beyond our perceived comfort zones. . . That is one of the greatest parts of each story isn’t it. . .? In your retelling your heart beats faster again at the recollection of your discomfort or fear. I think that fear and discomfort in new situations teach us to rely even more on the God who can and does provide vastly beyond any of our definitions of provision, abundance . . . even adventure.
In sharing stories with people who have traveled to Haiti on short term missions this last fall, I always love observing the change in pace, the animated movements, and the obvious excitement of those sharing stories of their adventures (many of them new adventures from their first days in Haiti).
I guess the main point of my post today is this – If we have no stories to share, maybe the endeavor of storytelling encourages us to seek new adventures and stories in our lives. The life we have been granted is meant for crazy awesome stories – we are meant to seek out adventures that make us a little (or a lot) nervous.
I am thankful to be the leader on the ground in Haiti for such a large endeavor!! The new adventure has provided dozens of new stories and hundreds of opportunities to share stories with people who have lived lives drastically different than my own. Often in the deaf community we sit down together and simply spend a few hours talking and sharing stories. Due to the nature of communication in sign language, I love watching stories being told by our deaf friends. The facial expressions, body language, and style of storytelling are deeply moving and incredible to watch. Even people who do not know much sign language find themselves wrapped up in the style of deaf storytelling.
Here we are – Americans sharing and living stories together with people who are deaf in one of the worst slums in the world. . . HOW COOL IS THAT? Even better, take a look at the story of an entire community that has changed from one of constant struggle for survival to one of potential flourishing!!!!!!!!!!! We learn how the Lord brings together all good stories for His glory.
For those of you who are following this story, involved in the story, or desiring to learn more, my advice always remains – dive in!!!!!!!!!! Merry Christmas.
grace and peace,