Am I living a story worth telling? I ask this question as Saturday 16th May was to have been our ‘Church Away Day’, with the theme being ‘So What’s the Story?’
Reflecting over these past weeks I have found myself realising that we are living through a unique time in history. This isn’t just an unusual time; it will be a time written about and marked in history books. I believe that this time will also be written into our own memories, each one of us with our own story of where we were and what we were doing when the coronavirus hit. In each story we will probably share points of similarity and points of difference; a bonding experience, yes, and yet one where each of us will have our own story to share. Stories I’m guessing that will be very different from the ones we perhaps were going to share on our ‘Church Away Day’.
To say that the world as we know it is an unusual place at the moment would be a gross understatement. To spell this out is unnecessary because we are all living with the restrictions and the limitations this new virus has caused to our usual daily life. It is clearly too soon to say with any confidence what might happen next. None of us can predict what may happen tomorrow, let alone weeks or months or even years from now, but I can’t help but reflect on what the future might look like as a result of Covid-19.
Beyond the obvious and serious tragedies what could the other results of this time be? How could we reimagine our stories and the stories of our families, our communities, our country and our world?
My own circumstances mean that I am now living mostly, like many of us, confined to home. Some days the biggest decisions I have to make are, what time I will take my daily walk and what culinary delight I might rustle up for tea…and my ironing pile has never been so small for a long time! Yet I have also found myself considering all that might be gained spiritually from this time too. I like to think that I will be able to tell others a story of how I lived through dark days and witnessed a world where good was able to flourish; a world where all adopted different habits as a form of self-sacrifice, accepting limitations in order that those who were weakest and most vulnerable were spared from the brunt of uncertain consequences; a world where we celebrated those who daily risked their lives for the sake of us all, putting their own wellbeing on the line in order to care for those who couldn’t care for themselves; a world where we were compelled to listen, and love our neighbours.
Reflecting on all of this I find myself reminded of another story. A story told in the Gospels; one narrative told in different ways; a story of a 1st Century Jew who also accepted limitations as an act of love, and ultimately as an act of self-sacrifice for the sake of us all and the world we live in.
The story of Jesus – his life, death and resurrection - finds its embodiment in a community living out stories of faith. The story of Jesus transforms us, and so we share and tell stories of our transformed lives too.
Story telling isn’t an accidental part of our faith; rather, telling our story is an essential tool for sharing our faith with others. And I believe this unusual time has just as much potential as any other time for us all to be transformed by the gospel story. Therefore I find myself asking: How is the gospel story transforming my life in this unusual time? How will I be different in the future because of what I have experienced?
How might all of these things end up changing the story that can be told about how I lived through this time?
Will the stories I tell about this unusual time be stories about me, or about God?
Am I living a story worth telling?