I can see my kids sitting on the floor asking me questions about what they observe in their world. Questions about the blue sky, why ants bite, how birds fly, and why people don’t always get along. I gather them and say “Once upon a time . . .”
I am always taken by the amazing primal story of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Its liturgical rhythms are stunning, its detailed account both exciting and painful to hear. This is obviously a story of a people curious to know about how their experience of the world connected to their understanding of divine life.
So the grandmothers and grandfathers passed on the stories told to them, stories of identity and belonging. These stories were passed down from generation to generation and gave meaning to life experienced as it tried to explain their uniqueness in the world.
I wonder what I would say to my children about the world if I, like the ancient Hebrews, did not have a written narrative? How would I answer their questions of identity and belonging? Would I begin with chaos? Would God’s “wind” be part of the story? How did we get here? What does God have to do with us? Would I just explain the nice and good things of life or would I try to explain the struggles also? Would I tell stories of perfect ancestors who always did things right, or would I use them as examples of what not to do?
I am thankful that I have these stories and I am also thankful that they serve as a starting point for conversations about the world, humanity, and God. Each time I approach the narrative I am in awe of how much these stories still speak to the human condition and to our need for divine grace.
I’ll keep on reading, wondering, and telling . . .