© 2010 John Casimir O'Keefe

In the beginning, a story

Let’s think about this for a second, scripture is simply a collection of stories of how the divine interacts with humanity.  It is not a textbook, it is not a guidebook, it is not a checklist of do’s and don’ts, it is simply a collection of stories designed by the divine to help us see how the divine interacts in our world.  In the very first book of scripture we find the opening story, the story of creation. In that story we see the first reality of the divine – to create.  In that opening narrative we realize that our God is a creative God, one that must create.

It seems silly to say, but the first story we read is a story of creation, not a story of innovation.  It is a story where God decides to create our world, and all that is in that world – including humanity.  The story shares with us a creator that intertwines the fabric of the universe and all we see and believe as truth.  In that we realize that we are created with a story, story creates us and defines us.  Story sustains us, enlightens us, moves us, encourages us, and most of all it saves us.  Story brings us to life and gives us our ideas and heart.  The story of the divine is embedded in our DNA, and moves us along our faith journey.  Everyone hears the same story, but not everyone hears the same story.  We walk away from the story with our own ideas of what the story means and how it filters into our lives.  We live the story based on our life story and we see the parts that we understand.  No one is able to see the story for another; no one can say “This is what the story means for everyone.”  At best, we can say, “This is how I see that story and how it plays in my life.”  For anyone to say that all people must define the story in the same way does an injustice to the story of the divine and removes how the divine will act in each of our lives.

When someone is striving to get a point across and is failing, they usually turn to a story to explain their point of view.  When that happens, some say, “I get it!”  But the question still remains, do they?  Do they get the story in the same way?  One word can have so many different meanings depending on the person hearing the story.    Take the simply statement “I filled a cup with water and gave it to a friend” – seems simple enough – but is it?  Think about all the possibilities; you filled the cup how?  A faucet, a river, from a pitcher?  You filled a cup?  Halfway, all the way, to the very top, just short of the very top?  What shape is the cup?  How big is the cup?  Does it matter what color the cup is?  When you say ‘cup’ do you mean tea cup?  Coffee cup?  Does the cup have a handle?  Then there are the issues of all the questions surrounding the words “gave” and “friend.”  If there is all that connected with one simple sentence, why are we expecting everyone to come to the same conclusions around an entire story?

When I was in my third year of undergrad studies we decided to move to Vermont for a semester to see if we liked it.  We had a four banger, Chevy Chevette that traveled at a max speed of 4 miles a week.  In the move, we were towing a U-Haul trailer that was, well, bigger than the car itself.  As we were chugging along at the top speak of a mouse pulling an elephant I looked over at my wife and said, “It is clear?”  With that, she answered, “Yes.”  So I would try to move over into the other lane – only to pull back into the old lane because a truck came screaming by – I looked at her and said, “I asked if it was clear.”  She replied, “Oh, I thought you were asking if anyone was coming.”

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