At her birthday celebration last week, granddaughter Emmalie told the seven-year-old version of her beginning—how her mom and dad knew one night that their baby girl was on her way, and how they traveled to the hospital and texted family the good news, and how she came in the wee hours so that, today, she could wake up being her new age and not have to “wait to turn seven.”
From the time before we are born, we have a story. It is unique and personal to us. Emmalie’s story is not my story, but I can recount my birth story and you can remember yours. We all have life stories.
At a Fort Caswell conference, I reconnected with a friend and fellow Louisianian.
Ragan Courtney wrote, with Buryl Red, “Celebrate Life,” the famed Christian musical and anthem performed by youth choirs everywhere in the 1960s and 70s. Ragan was traveling with his famous wife ministering through music. One of my favorite songs that she sings is “Tell Me the Story of Jesus,” It is one of Cynthia Clawson’s standards, and to my ear, her version is the best. In the lyrics, the whole of Jesus’s life comes to light for all of us—birth, ministry, death, life everlasting, Christ, Savior, God Almighty. Glorious!
Something transformative happens as I hear and experience her music. The songwriter’s words unite with the musician’s artistry to produce an awareness of my Creator. And the outcome? Praise!
I recently read a news article that reported that of the five senses, the most effective at locating time and place is the sense of smell. I sat back in my chair and pondered, recalling associations between smell and space, and yes, it seems so. The scent of pine takes me to my childhood growing up near Kisatchee National Forest and my
carefree summer explorations and adventures in the Youth Conservation Corps as a teen. The distinct fragrance of Old Spice,
wherever I inhale it, elicits pictures of my grandfather Wilmer Lee. Catching the faint odor of linseed oil sends me to LSU and Dr. Cavanaugh’s art studio in the 1980s.
However, I would make the case for instant transport to specific settings through the sense of hearing, and even more specifically to music. I marvel at the ability of songs in my car’s very modern sound system to move me backwards to points along my personal timeline. The Imperials? Church Training, Sunday nights at New Hope Baptist Church. “Our God is an Awesome God”—daughter Amie in church choir, Tioga First Baptist Church. Any Huey Lewis tune? The amphitheater concert venue outside Raleigh and a sweet 25th wedding anniversary celebration.
The connections between the news article and my own riffs on the subject agree: it is our memories that elicit stories. I tell stories to cultivate common ground. We all have shared experiences that are different in the details but same in the bedrock. Telling stories builds understanding. It grows community. It is why I write “Homeword.”
Storytellers begin with the end in mind, the outcome they hope to bring about in the hearers’ ears. The story is not the same, yet the experience is universal. When I hear “Tell me a story,” I immediately think of Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, and then I point that way, to end at the beginning, which is exactly the same: God!
You, my friend, have a story to tell. It is your version of the universal one, but its importance is of great value. What will you tell? In these days, our personal stories matter, and our choice of which to tell can matter even more. Let us choose to tell the story of Jesus, in our words, in our actions, with our whole hearts and entire beings. People are listening, ready to rejoice in what our God is doing right now. We have good news. Let’s not hide it!
Written By Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children