On March 30th Cesie Delve Sheuermann, a great sister in Christ, an amazing writer (one blogger who is always worth reading), posted a blog post on re-imaging your story. You can read it here.
Cesie based her idea of re-imagining a story on the new, sensational broadway musical, “Hamilton,” a hiphop, musical retelling of the life of founding father Alexander Hamilton, which has grossed $63 million in ticket sales since it opened in August. See the opening number from Hamilton here. The soundtrack won the Grammy in February for best musical theater. When I watched the opening number, it riveted me.
What was it about the style, the music, the incredible choreography, or the story behind this phenomenon that caught me? I didn’t know, but, I bought the soundtrack. I’ve listened through it possibly 25 times since April 1st, and like Cesie had written in her blog, I too am captivated by it. I’ve laughed. I’ve cried, yes even sobbed listening to it. (Ridiculous, right?) And alongside of the power of the story, I’m learning a slice of American history I hadn’t known much about.
Ask my family, I get caught by stories. When there is healing, love, or redemption in a story on film or in a book, the kids and Karen have looked at me, for I’ll cry. I remember reading the last chapter of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle aloud to the girls years back and getting so choked up I couldn’t read the end for a while as Charles Wallace and Meg get reconnected with their family back on earth. 🙂 When in London in 1998 I took Anna and Grace to see Les Miserables on stage, and of course, cried. We’ve loved that musical over the years as a family, and still I’ll sob through parts of it, as if I don’t know what’s coming!
God wired me sensitive, true, but with this play Hamilton, God is speaking to me about the reason behind the wiring. Stories matter. How we tell our own stories to ourselves, especially, matters. In life so often the greatest difficulties encountered by people happen when they narrate to themselves a false interpretation of some event in life, and thereby making that event a kind of marker with the power to poison their future story. Re-interpretation happens often through forgiveness and in this musical Hamilton there is this incredibly beautiful forgiveness that takes place.
One reason, perhaps, why God wired me sensitive to stories was so I can listen for the ways people have misinterpreted their own stories and then I can be present as Jesus helps them reframe and reclaim the hope He intends.
On Sunday a little girl up front for children’s moment demonstrated such a re-telling. I had asked the kids to hold in their minds eye an image of a very special event in their lives, a favorite memory. And then I asked them to see where Jesus was in that event, notice what he was doing, and ask if he would like to tell them anything. Aurelia raised her hand.
“Jesus was with Nana, Papa and I as we were trying to find our way back to our tent in the dark,” she said.
At first, I was unclear how this was a favorite, but figured Jesus had brought up a memory he wanted to work with!
“Were you lost?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said, “but Jesus was right there with us, showing us the way back.”
“Is He saying anything to you, Aurelia?”
She nodded. “He is saying, ‘I am always with you and will never leave or forsake you.'”
I looked up at the congregation, many of whom were choked up, and said, “That’s about the best sermon you’ll get today. Thank you, Aurelia. I think we can all go home now!”
Stories are powerful and the way we tell them matters both to us and to others. As I am practicing for this Camino, I’m not just preparing to walk across northern Spain, but I’m practicing for my daily walk with Jesus. I want to learn to walk in that story and to tell it well.