This time of year we may believe or disbelieve many things…
But we humans are storytellers. We know who we are because of our tribe’s stories. Before we wrote our stories down, we told them over and over… teaching our children to embellish the important parts… to pause in the right place, drop their voices, and grow louder to make the important points… how to adjust the story here and there, so each group listening would take away the heart of what we wanted them to remember.
We know our place because of the way our people weave words to tell each other what our history is… and knowing our history shapes our future.
In this modern age of verifiable facts and figures and science it’s easy to forget that storytelling is an art. It is is easy to find ourselves wondering if the stories we know are really true. But sometimes… often… that’s not really the point.
At times we might come to feel that we’ve been told a story that is not, in fact, factual. And this can be difficult to navigate.
But the stories are still valuable – even when the truth is conjoined with myth.
My tribe tells a story about a tiny baby. Born to a poor, young, unwed mother in a time of extreme political tension, and a culture marked by racial, gender, and religious division.
We talk about his birth at the moment when the year is shifting from it’s darkest season into the returning light. We talk about how this baby grew to tell his tribe a new kind of story… one of love and lifting up the lowly. How he tuned the politics and religion and culture of his time and place upside down, breaking down walls and pushing boundaries.
Maybe this isn’t a story you grew up with.
Maybe it is a story that you can’t believe as factual truth anymore.
Perhaps this story has been retold in ways that hurt you.
That is part of *your* story. And I honor that for you, and leave you space to tell your own story, in your own time…
But when *I* hear this story and strip it down, allowing it to simply be a wonderful story of of a baby, and his family in crisis and the people who crossed their path…That narrative is still magical and alive in my heart.
It gives me the childlike ability to believe in things that seem impossible.
Things like love that shifts our hearts and our lives.
Things like hope that holds on to better than the present moment may seem to offer.
A story of love that is real and alive… a love that feeds the hungry… a love that welcomes refugees… a love that gives gay kids a place to feel safe… a love that pays a neighbors electric bill… a love that is kind to the cashier after 45 minutes in line… a love that says it is sorry first… a love that knows when sitting in silence is all that’s needed… a love that loves, simply – without any strings attached.
And this is a love that doesn’t insist that there is only one way to tell it’s story, but embraces everyone into the tribe and lets all of our beautiful and rich human narratives shine and glow.
Because the winter is indeed dark and cold… but there is a spark that breaks though and can turn the universe of hurt on it’s head for those who need it most. And we can be part of growing that spark into a glowing ember into a steadily burning flame.
This, my friends, is a story I can believe in.