Monday, April 12, 2010

The Power of Story

 “Prelude to a Blog Post”
Sometimes I have an idea for a blog, but deep down inside I know that it is not yet ready for “viewing.” When this happens, it often turns into un-motivation. I don’t feel like writing because nothing seems complete. I feel like I need pieces of a puzzle to fall into place before I can put my thoughts into words.
If you have not yet caught on, this is where I was. Sitting stubbornly on the couch; drifting between sleep and restlessness on a bus; eating in my parent’s dining room; listening in a church pew; walking to work. I let life wash over me. I didn’t try to finish my thoughts. Then all of a sudden it all began to make sense. A chain of words formed in my head. A string of thoughts wove its way into my imagination. It may have happened this morning in the shower, but only now am I typing it. This is the culmination of what began some many weeks ago.  I apologize for the delay. 

The actual blog post: “The Power of Story”          
Stories are powerful things. They evoke emotion; they expand the imagination; they allow us to time- travel and space-travel, across millennia, through wrinkles and over oceans, rivers and seas. A good story can transport you from where you are to, where you desire to be, to where you are actually understood, and truly belong.  
Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance Day. When I was younger (starting about the 7th grade)I read pretty much every Holocaust story I could get my hands on. Why? Because I had a fascination with the stories, the retelling of events. I could relate to the people whose lives were torn in two because I had a similar history. We shared a past, and yet I could only imagine the happenings of their life. Those stories, whether based on actual events or imaginary history, brought what happened to life. And in my mind’s eye I saw them walking, living, laughing, sharing, crying, dying. My imagination ran wild with emotion, and inspiration, and color, but most of all a desire to learn more--to take these stories and flesh out the truthful events behind them.  Although I am speaking of Holocaust stories, the same was, and became true for all works of historical literature, fiction and memoirs.  
C.S. Lewis, a man whom I count among my dear (and yet deceased) literary friends, knew well the power of story. How else could an image of a faun walking with an umbrella in the snow become the basis for one of the best tomes of Western allegorical literature? I mention Lewis quite often when I write, but I will not apologize for this. Instead I would like to share a bit of joy. Throughout Lent (and onwards, since Lent is obviously past) two friends and I (from work) have been reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Truthfully, they began before I knew of their brilliant plan, but I was quickly included, and am much the happier for it. What better way to spend the weeks leading up to Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (other than reading the actual account in the Gospels, of course!) then to focus on some of the best stories rooted in Divinely inspired creativity.  Lewis takes the mundane and turns it on its head with Aslan at the helm (pun intended). So captivating are the stories that we find ourselves desiring Narnia right along with the Pevensies, Eustace, Jill, Polly, and Digory. What joy to press our faces against Aslan’s mane, to feel the wind as we are carried across the sea on the Dawn Treader, to see Narnian trees dancing in the wood, to hear Aslan say, “There is a way into my country from all worlds . . . and I shall be telling you all the time”!
One of my favorite images in the Chronicles can be found at the end of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The children have very nearly reached the world’s end and they come to an island where they meet a lamb. It is a quiet, simple lamb. And yet, as it begins to speak, it turns into the great Lion, Aslan himself! This imagery is best represented in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardobe, with Aslan’s sacrificial death on the Stone Table, yet Lewis waits until a book steeped in the theme of yearning to show the Lion as a lamb.  
Jesus himself is described many times in Scripture (both prophetically and contemporarily) as a lamb—but ultimately as The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). With Passover and Easter overlapping this year, I had a lot of time to think about Jesus as the Lamb. I am often awestruck by the frankness and beauty of God’s imagery. Such a powerful story, that of Redemption! It is rooted in the ancient practices of sacrifice, and the practical cycle of birth, life and death, but it is brought to life in the narrative of Jesus. The symbols of the Passover meal, and Christ’s actions during that final week, remind us of God’s deliverance from slavery to freedom, from darkness into brilliant light. 
And so we remember the story. We place it on our hearts as God’s Truth. And we repeat it with significance because in the telling, we find Life.
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