40 Reflections – #15: 40 days of raw recollections during the Lenten Season
Last week, our son was riding bikes, exploring the woods, and climbing trees with a friend. After a while, he came home from the trails and told us a tree fell on him. A little daunting, but luckily he was with a friend who was able to lift it off. Turned out it was an old, small pine tree he was climbing when it just snapped. Thankfully, he was wearing his bike helmet and ended up with only a scratched face, and legs. On Monday at school, he was questioned by friends about the mark on his face, and he shared his story. In the group of students, one boy pressed further, “Do you have a video of it?” “No video” was the reply. “Well then, it didn’t happen.” They debated back and forth, then finally, being a professional selective listener, our son confirmed, “it really did happen” and then moved on, ignoring further hassle.
At bedtime, he told me this story and we sat and picked it apart like old layers of paint peeling off the wall trying to find the original color. My inaugural feeling on the boy’s need for documentation to prove the truth was a feeling of exhaustion. Nowadays, technology negotiates our day much like a seeing eye dog, but with swipes, texts, and posts. We click pictures of our meals, and memories, shorten words and deliver messages as fast as our thumbs can go. Conversations dwindle with our busy lives, along with the age-old craft of storytelling – exactly what our son was doing.
As young children, there’s faith in stories. Maurice Sendak takes us to a wild rumpus and faithfully floats us home with Max as he arrives home to his warm dinner.
Faith in friendship is palpable when Charlotte sits in her web and says:
“You have been my friend. That in itself is a tremendous thing. I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die. A spider’s life can’t help being something of a mess, with all this trapping and eating flies. By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heaven knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”
― E.B. White,
Faith requires vulnerability. Stripping the need for that which is tangible. In “Yes, Virginia There is a Santa Claus” Francis Church interprets faith in his editorial in The New York Sun in 1897:
“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.”
The historian Stephen Nissenbaum connects ”Yes, Virginia” with not only faith in Santa Claus, but faith in faith. In the late 19th century religious doubt ran rampant among middle-class Americans. According to Mr. Nissenbaum “…God must exist simply because people so badly needed Him to.” When Mr. Church referred to ”the skepticism of a skeptical age, he was speaking to grown-ups.”
Now that doubt cloaks children too.
We make an emotional investment with every story we tell. Some may believe if a tree falls on a boy in a forest it’s true, doubters will question and want video proof. The vital action is to tell the story, be the raconteur and propel your listeners with you on a journey of faith.
Dig Deep: Go on a Rosary Run! Yesterday I did and it took my mind off the pain. 🙂 Run on!
Lenten Challenge: Pray for the doubters and cynics in the world, truly that’s all of us at times. Keep story-telling alive!