This weekend my brother Joseph is making his First Communion. As our family prepares for this priceless ritual lots of family members have come into town(including myself). Last night I was sitting around listening to the elders of our family tell their stories. Talking about the presidents they remember, the civil rights struggles witnessed, the wars lived through, the years following the Second Vatican Council, and many other stories of brokenness and togetherness seen in their lifetimes.
They talked about how fearful they are that their grandchildren are growing up in a country in perpetual war, trying to establish values in a strikingly materialistic consumerism, a secularism which challenges the sacred depth of our faith, and the busyness and pragmatism that keeps so many people from slowing and quieting down long enough to realize where we are or how we are doing or where God might be nudging our hearts to go next.
As they talked about all these things, as they told their stories, I had a simple yet remarkable realization that has been ringing in my ears and my heart every moment since: these are the days of our stories...these are the days of my generation's stories. This is the time that we will bring to those who follow us.
The story is central to the human experience. Story is a part of every Catholic liturgy, a part of every family gathering, a pastime of the young and of the old, the point of Facebook and Twitter and cave paintings, of Scripture and of biographies. The story tells us what we cannot forget about where we have been and what we have done and the things we have gone through.
Stories become a powerful force forming a sense of what matters to us and leads us to seek messy, real, discursive truth instead of black-and-white, comfortable, tamed "truth". In the story we learn not only who we are but also Whose we are; in the story of our lives and the lives of the many we discover Providence as real and moving and calling and challenging.
These are the days of our stories.
My generation is thirsting for story: for the stories of our elders and ancestors, for the stories of our God and His people, for the stories we live today and tomorrow and the tomorrows to come that we long never to forget. Storyteller and theologian John Shea says, "Our greatest sin is that we forget."
May we be a generation that never forgets. May we never forget where we've come from, where we've been, where we're going, what we've overcome, who we are, Whose we are!
These are the days of OUR stories.
Let us drink deeply from the cup of each day. And everyday drink from the cups of days past, years past, lives past. Drink deeply of today!
Telling the stories of today to the people of tomorrow will save our souls, will integrate our sins, will heal our hearts, and will grow our love of self, of others, and of Other.
Drink deeply of every today, for these are the days of our stories.