Friday, October 1, 2010
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?
Photo by JetSetJim