My son, Tripp, has just released his second book, titled All the Memorable Rounds. The book is a collection of 21 short golf stories told by Tripp and his friends. Some of those friends are quite famous, others just ordinary folks who love the game of golf. The stories are funny, entertaining, inspirational, reflective and contemplative.
As one reviewer commented, “the book captures the essence of the game, and is ultimately a love story.”
As I was reading the stories over and over, my eyes were opened more to the storytellers than the stories. As I saw them in the story, I sensed how they saw themselves.
The recognition of the absolute defining power of our stories became crystallized for me during Holy Week.
On the Monday of that week a good friend and colleague invited Cissy and me to a real Passover Seder meal. I say “real” because the meal lasted three hours, and was filled with marvelous fellowship, beautiful wines, excellent food, Psalms of praise, prayers of adoration, and most importantly the story of God and His people told by our host in rhythmic Hebrew, as we read along in English. The time passed much too quickly. It was an evening I’ll never forget.
As people of faith, our stories both define us and explain our lives back to us. Think about that for a moment. As people of faith, we actually have two stories.
One is that best-selling collection of short stories known as Scripture or the Bible; the other is the story of our faith journeys – better known as life.
Since childhood, we have heard the stories of God and His love and His longing for His created to return. It is clear that God’s story defines Himself. It is a love story.
Our stories define us as well, and in truth, explain our lives back to us. Are you beginning to get a feel for the power of “story?”
One thing that gives power to story is unconditional ownership – the good, the bad and the ugly. Holy Scripture would not be holy if we left out the bad parts. Our stories would not be holy if we denied the bad parts. Owning the story enables us to live free lives filled with love and promise. Denying the story pushes us into fear and paralysis. We either own our story or our story owns us.
My mother’s favorite hymn was “I Love to Tell the Story.” Here is the first verse: “I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love: I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longing as nothing else would do.”
The Kingdom of God, no matter from what faith perspective you see it, happens when God’s story and our story becomes one – a love story.
Thank you for letting me share this story with you.
The Rev. Joe Bowden is the assisting priest at Church of the Good Shepherd.