“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.” ~ Philip Pullman
Once upon a time…
It was a dark and stormy night…
In the Beginning…
We hear these phrases and we settle in for a story. Probably one we’ve heard before, probably one we could tell ourselves; but it doesn’t matter. These beginnings promise us something beyond the novelty of surprise; they promise us comfort and commonality. They promise us connection. Throughout our free and responsible search for truth and meaning we encounter many elements that lead us forward, but it is the stories that we pass on and share, generation after generation, that link us inextricably to each other, and to something larger than ourselves.
The creation and sharing of stories has been a characteristic of every human culture throughout history. Initially by oral retelling, eventually by printed word, and now even electronically, we share stories and we grow closer and more in tune with our fellow human beings with whom we co-exist in society. Fairy tales, Shakespeare, the Bible, even Dr. Seuss… these stories form a part of our collective cultural experience, and thereby bind us to one another. Some are heavy, and inspire us to ponder deep questions of ultimacy, some are inherently lighter and serve to entertain (while also causing us to think). We can relate to these stories because they speak to something deep within us, whether providing answers, inspiring questions, or awakening awareness of morality. These stories that are within our storehouse enrich us in ways we may not even realize, forming the basis for our sacred soul connections and the foundation of our common cultural knowledge. Stories that move us are those within which we see a hint of Truth, within which we find a slice of meaning. They resonate because we can own them.
Are there stories that serve to comfort you when you are in need of emotional healing? That take you a step or two farther down the path to Understanding? That ring True? That you cherish? Which stories serve this purpose for you? Which stories fill that need?
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Although I am now a UU, I am very grateful for my mainstream Protestant background – there are so many Bible stories in my storehouse! The good Samaritan, feeding the 1000, the prodigal son, and Noah’s ark are just a few examples. And what is better than the 23rd psalm for comfort???
I agree, June. When we have a rich and varied history from which to draw we benefit immensely.
There is a bookshelf in our home that holds sacred texts from various faith traditions, and we read and discuss the stories within periodically. I hope that we are providing our boys with a comparable experience to stock their own storehouses.