A few minutes ago I stepped out onto the east porch just to check the weather for myself. I can always check the weather on the internet but there is something about just stepping out on the porch and hearing the wind in the trees and seeing the moonlight come and go as clouds blow past.
If you stand out in the night long enough, your eyes will adjust to the darkness and you begin to see things. A leaf tumbles across the grass. A car drones past on the road. An owl calls from the wood, coyotes from somewhere out north of the far north field—from the woods divided by the old railroad right-of-way turned bike trail.
In the morning the Bethel men will gather in the Fellowship Hall for breakfast, prayer, and encouraging words. I’ll sleep soon, but not too soon. I like to ring every last drop out of every day.
I’m writing up on the corner of my room tonight and playing a YouTube video behind my writing software—the audio playing into my headphones. It’s the sound of a crackling fire. Oddly, I feel warmer when I listen to it. It’s peaceful like living in the county.
Before we moved here we lived for five years in a city and eleven years in a crowded suburb. It was a mercy to move into our peaceful country home after a time of dark betrayal, abuse, injustice, and family pain. God was in it, all the ugliness of it and darkness, led us to a new and better place and new friends. We started a whole new life in this little farmhouse on a pleasant back road a few miles from a quiet village. We live in range of deer and wild turkeys, geese and cranes overhead, coyotes and owls calling in the night, and the sound of trains in the distance and planes far overhead going who-knows-were.
We have all we need and more. We have a good church, good friends, a quiet, good life. Only God could have arranged it. It is not something I could have fully imagined or personally arranged.
A Moral Victory
I won a moral victory today alone in our little home. Lois worked and I enjoyed the luxury of day mostly alone at home. I spent a chunk of my day trying to repair my coffee grinder. After taking it apart and putting it back together a couple times and pouring over the paperwork online and watching YouTube videos about it and reading about it on discussion threads, I feel like a master coffee grinder repairman. I was so thrilled when it worked. The dark, fragrant beans originally from South America, roasted in Oregon, shipped to me as a gift, began to growl, ground evenly down into the hopper. I heated some water immediately, took a couple tablespoons of the precious powder and made a generous mug of pour-over coffee. After all my labor and frustration, at last I carried it to my desk for comfort and inspiration.
I went for a thoughtful walk and when I got home a brewed another cup returning to my desk to work on my message for the second Sunday in Advent.
I’m not particularly handy or experienced at repairing things so when I am able to successfully repair something that is valuable to me it gives me inordinate pleasure. Today I formed a special bond with my coffee grinder and if I ever need to take it apart and replace something I have confidence, tools, and now even a bit of experience. I only left the farm today for a few minutes to make the trip to the village hardware to get the little tool needed to disassemble and reassemble my valuable appliance. It was only seventeen months old and too young to die.
November has passed. High wind swept through a couple days ago and the lawn looks as if someone passed over the grass with a giant vacuum. The old place has an especially well-groomed appearance. We await the inevitable snows and keep reminding ourselves that there is no such thing as bad weather, just wrong clothing. We are about to test that theory. I’m 18 days into a goal of walking right through the winter into spring–150 days–six days a week. I will walk until the leaves return in mid-May. The roads will be clear and the temperature will rise and I will ride the bikes again.
On my walk today I noticed coolant stains on the road, broken glass, bits of trim, and other car fragments from a deer/auto collision. The auto was a van that belonged to a friend of mine and a Bethel member. He was passing Bittersweet Farm just after dusk last night and a buck sprang into his path from out of the darkness. Neither the deer nor the car survived. My friend is fine, but now he is going to have to replace his car. That’s trouble he didn’t need. He has had his share of difficulty in the last few years. But after a while it will be a story to tell and the pain of his misfortune will be gone.
So Much of Life is Stories.
Have you ever noticed how much of life is storytelling? On Sunday I usually tell a Bible story or I tell the backstory behind a passage of scripture. I usually illustrate and apply the truth using stories. Through the week I listen to the stories of others. At Baptism I tell the story of how someone came to follow Jesus or I help them to see how to tell their own story.
Evangelism is telling the story of the good news. Counseling is listening to the stories of others. At communion we tell the story of Jesus death. Business meetings are opportunities to tell the church stories of why what we give and how conduct business and how care for the church matter to all of us.
Across the nation and around the world men meet at restaurants or sit around the barber shops and tell stories. Veterans sometimes tell war stories. Athletes relive their exploits. Hunters love to describe their hunt in minute detail. Women swap birth stories. When the kids get home from school and the parents get home from work stories are exchanged.
Some people are very aware that they telling a story and others who relate what happened without being conscious that they are storytelling but conscious or not we are all storytellers.
The news is stories. The color commentator at a sporting event is telling the stories behind the players and teams. Movies are stories on film. Some are fiction, some are fact, and most are a curious mixture of both. The holy hour at summer camp is the time in the evening when everything grows quiet and the storyteller is invited to speak before a circle or a chapel or a cabin of campers silenced in wonder. Sometimes the stories are exchanged out under the open sky to the music of a sputtering fire.
I’m always alert to stories. I love them and I use them. You do too. Even if you don’t realize that you do. We are all story lovers and and storytellers by our very God-given nature.
Whenever I meet someone I ask myself, “What is their story? What is the story of what made them who they are?” And I ask myself, “Do they know the story of what God has done for them and have they believed? And “How will the story end for them?”
I often ask myself, “Am I living a story worth telling?”
Now maybe you understand why I like to call myself, “The keeper of the story…”
Old storytellers sometimes end their story by saying, “Well, that’s my story and now it’s yours…”
Stories are to keep and to give away at the same time.
December 2, 2022