From earliest childhood, stories have helped us to understand ourselves and how we live in this world.
So Many Stories!
Which story are you most aware of?
At one level the story that most interests us is our own story with its twists and turns, highs and lows. Unfortunately, many of us stop at the top level of our stories. We may never really understand our own story. We spend a lifetime figuring it out. Sadly, sometimes we think that ours is the only story.
There are so many other stories we know and can tell. Our loved ones each have a story. So also, the rich and the famous, the good and the bad. There are the stories of the forgotten ones or the unknown ones and even the stories of all creatures and indeed all of creation.… which God tells us is good. Even God has a story!
Have you ever thought of all these stories as God’s story?
Pope Francis has! In Fratelli Tutti he reminds us that all our stories are connected. In Laudato Si he reminds us that all our stories are connected with all that God has created.
Our vocation as storytellers
Pope Francis reminds us that we are all God’s story
In the confusion of the voices and messages that surround us, we need a human narrative, which talks to us about us and the beauty that lives there. A narration that knows how to look at the world and events with tenderness; that tells our being part of a living fabric; that reveals the intertwining of the threads with which we are connected to each other.
He goes even further. We are all God’s storytellers. Pope Francis draws our attention to the almost poetic words of St. Paul.
“You are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor 3:3).
Each of us in our own way shares in the storytelling vocation of the evangelists and a whole host of biblical authors.
The special vocation of Vincentian storytellers
Vincentians accept the special vocation to tell God’s story. It is the mission of Vincentians to focus on the stories of the forgotten and marginalized.
We, inspired by the model of St. Vincent, claim to stand in the heritage of Jesus to bringing good news (the story of God’s love) to the poor.
“He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free…” Luke 4:17 ff.
As we try to live this mandate we sometimes forget that this does not just mean talking at people. It means listening to their stories so that together we can see and understand their individual stories as part of God’s story. This is the beginning of all systemic change efforts.
Storytellers are also very good listeners. Listening to their stories helps us all to understand their story and see that their story is part of God’s story.
Listening to their stories helps them tell their stories. We take a holy pride in being “the voice of the poor.” But we must also help them to tell their own story. We must never forget they must tell their own story. We are also called to help them understand and tell their own story in their own language.
As we listen to their often painful stories we may also recognize the bruised and battered face of Christ today. Perhaps we can recognize our role as that of Veronica as she wiped the blood from Jesus’ face. Jesus may leave us with his imprint on us.