Friday, October 1, 2010

Celebrating Story

Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting older, but lately I can't get enough of Antiques Roadshow.
It's the stories that get to me.
"My father bought the necklace for my mother back when they didn't have two cents to their name. He found it at a second hand shop and told the cashier it would show off my mother's green eyes. When he reached in his pocket and discovered he didn't have the eight dollars the lady wanted for it, she patted his hand and whispered just to take it anyway. Years later, Mother used to wear it when they went out to dinner--or whenever they'd make up, after an argument."

Or even stories like...
"The painting terrified me as a child. My aunt hung it on her stairway, and I can't tell you how many times I fell down the stairs, trying to manage those steep steps with my eyes closed!"

The stories give meaning to the objects and pump them full of life.
Some time back, I heard a news story on NPR about a thrift shop that broadcast the stories of their merchandise over the loudspeaker as people shopped. When folks brought donations in, they were invited to tape what the objects had meant to them. "This used to be my favorite shirt--I'd wear it all the time. But I was wearing it last week when my girlfriend broke up with me, and I can't hardly stand to look at it now. Still, it's pretty great shirt. Somebody ought to wear it."
According to the reporter, sales were up!

People love stories.
My kids sure do. They get such a kick out of hearing what they were like when they were little.
How my Sarah went to a preschool where all the little girls wore cute little outfits and big bows in their hair, but she INSISTED on wearing her neon orange toboggan, her "camping hat," pulled down over her forehead, like an eraser on a very short pencil.

We tell how Ben, my runner, was the only child of mine who didn't have to be coaxed out of the womb. How at 11:30pm one night, I had a curious desire to stand on the bed and clean the ceiling fan and three hours later, I was in the hospital bed, listening to the nurse tell me I couldn't push yet, that the doctor wasn't there. From day one, he's been running. The child doesn't know how to walk through anything.

And we tell Sam "My do it" stories. How he'd pull up a chair to the VCR and push the button, saying "Me rewindy." The way he loved to pull up a chair by the stove and help his daddy mix the crepe batter, singing "The one who helps dad make the crepes get the first crepe. And the other ones don't and that's too bad."

Stories like these are fun to tell, but they're also interesting tools. It fascinates me that traces of the people my children have grown to be were there from the very beginning. The stories show me what they're becoming. When we celebrate the stories, we realize again how precious we are to each other.

In the last couple of years, I've spent a lot of my private writing time tracing my own faith story, trying to discover how God has moved through the story arc of my life.
Have you spent much time doing this? Examining your life, your own time line, for clues of God's presence and involvement?
It hasn't been an easy process. It's not something that happens accidentally, at least not for me. I've had to devote time to it, and I'm constantly shepherding my brain away from the tangents of normal life. But I can't recommend it enough. It's helped me grow closer to God, it's helped me understand myself, and it's helped me see where God may be leading me as my time line continues.

Have you ever read Parker Palmer's Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation?
It's a beautiful book. I love how he describes the stillness required to examine our own soul stories.

"The soul is like a wild animal--tough, resilient, savvy, self-sufficient, and yet exceedingly shy. If we want to see a wild animal, the last thing we should do is to go crashing through the woods, shouting for the creature to come out. But if we are willing to walk quietly into the woods and sit silently for an hour or two at the base of a tree, the creature we are waiting for may well emerge, and out of the corner of an eye we will catch a glimpse of the precious wildness we seek."

It's a rewarding hunt!

Have a happy weekend, y'all!
Before you go, I'd love to hear about the power of story in your own life. What do stories do for you? For your kids?
Have you spent much time reflecting on your faith story? Is it easy or hard for you?
Any Antique Roadshow groupies out there?

Love, Becky

Photo by JetSetJim


Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

I used to teach my students about the power of story--to heal, to share, to build, to teach. And it's no coincidence that Jesus relied on that same method, right?
Sometimes I reflect on my faith story and I wonder if I'm reading it right.
I do enjoy Antiques Roadshow, though I don't watch it very often. Items that come with their past attached are so much more special.

n. davis rosback said...

i love stories, much better than statistics.

Kat said...

Oh I just love this post. And I think I'm going to have to start watching Antiques Roadshow. ;)

My kids LOVE to hear stories about when they were babies. Over and over and over again. I think stories are a way to show our love. If something sticks in our memory so strongly then it must be very important to us. I think kids get that. :)

I LOVE the thrift shop idea. Brilliant!

Attic Rat said...

I have a hump back chest with the family heirlooms in it. Also in the chest is a piece of paper detailing any information I have on those heirlooms - the stories.

I love the show, too. :D

- Teresa

lotusgirl said...

I think it's interesting sometimes, but I don't really watch it much.

Jean Wise said...

There is such power in stories! As a reporter for our local newspaper I love doing the feature interviews on people - everyone has such wonderful tales if we only listen!

Cathy ~ Tadpoles and Teacups said...

Lovely, fun stories! My kids also enjoy hearing about their escapades as toddlers; and of course, I love to tell the stories over and over again! (Though, sadly, I think in this video age, some of the art of story-telling has been lost.)

Laura said...

Oh, yes ... you and I could sit and watch Antiques Roadshow together! I think part of it is the history junkie inside me.

Oh, the power of story. As an English teacher, it's what I preach almost every day.

I'll have to check that book out. I think that's something moms neglect once they assume the mom role. Thanks!

Graceful said...

Love this post about the value of stories, Becky. Have you read Donald Miller's latest book -- something about a million stars...can't remember the title! It's very much about stories -- a lot of what you observe here. A good read...

Graceful said...

Oh, and have you ever listened to StoryCorps on NPR? Oh the power and beauty of stories captured in that series...I hardly can get through an epiosode without tearing up!

Karen Lucci said...

Rebecca, my comment is on what you wrote for Pastor Deb about our "mountain" movers or should I say piano movers. God loves it when we notice and then tell. He's just waiting to see if someone "gets it". That's why He paints sunsets and flowers and butterflies and then sits and watches to see who is paying attention. I'm glad you've got your eyes wide open!

writerjenn said...

You'd probably also like "History Detectives," where they do 3 stories per episode on objects that people have, and try to find out whether they have historical significance, and the stories behind them.
[No, I don't work for public TV! ;-)]

In my family, we often use stories to tell newer members of our family about members who have passed on. I always love to tell the story about how my grandfather convinced one of our relatives that a certain island was a vacation resort--when in reality it was a garbage dump. Yes, he was a prankster!

And my brother-in-law has told me some priceless stories about my husband as a young boy.

Angie Muresan said...

Storytelling has and is tremendously vital in our family. We don't have a TV, and didn't have one when I was a child either. Our entertainment consists of reading out loud and telling stories.

OfficeGirl said...

Love antiques roadshow! I love stories.. any kind. Especially from strangers. I worked at a spa when I was younger and I helped this little old man down some steps and he says to me "My wife would be here with me, but she passed away not last year. When you've had someone in your life for 50 years, you tend to miss them terribly." I'll never forget that comment. I ended up talking to him about his wife for an hour.

Karyn said...

I love how you mentioned the thrift store stories. I think that's why I love antiques so much! They have meaning and character instilled right in them.

I've also been reflecting on my faith story. I feel like God has been prompting me to do so lately and I'm not exactly sure why, but I'll keep following it!

Rebecca Ramsey said...

Love, love, love your comments!
Yes, History Detectives and Story Corps are faves of mine. Also Pawn Stars! So many good stories.