Where is story born?
I tend to believe that stories are an eternity in and of themselves, spoken into existence at the beginning of time when God, the original Author, said
“Let there be”.
Stories just are.
And they’ve always been.
And a writer begins… when the Author of THE Story comes near and whispers your name into every line. It’s when THE eternal story becomes your story too, and you just know it’s the way He’s going to speak to and through you for the rest of your life.
I know it’s different for everybody.
In one way or another I’ve always been a writer. I didn’t know it was God speaking to me in the midst of those stormy yearsbut I realize and see now He sent some wonderful people to add to and encourage the story in me along the way.
There was Mrs. Gardener, my sixth grade teacher.
Life was hell at home, period. School was not only my great escape, it was my lifeline; an oasis and the one place I could safely shine. Mrs. Gardener managed to bring out the shiniest bits of me every time. I didn’t have many friends but was absolutely certain she was my friend and that was good enough.
My memory is sketchy (it was about a hundred years ago!), but I vaguely recall once all my regular class work done, she’d let me choose a “story starter” from the file box on her desk. I loved that thing!
I’m sure I wrote just gobs of ridiculous 6th-grade nonsense but Mrs. Gardner made me feel as if I was one of the greatest writers ever to cross her threshold; often sharing my work with the class.
She gave my story a voice.
I now realize she also must have known what kind of story that little ragamuffin was really living outside her classroom. In fact, I’m certain.
Because one day, she asked me to stay after class. Nervously, I waited at my desk until the other kids left all the while wondering, what had I done wrong?
As the last student filed out, Mrs. Gardner called me over to her desk and handed me a flat box. She seemed a bit nervous herself. I can’t recall what she said except, maybe, ” I thought you might like this.”
A sweater. A beautiful salmon pink sweater just my size…
I’d never had anything that nice … I’d have to hide it in order to keep it. Stunned, I probably wore that thing slap out before the year was done!
Ultimately, the gift Mrs Gardner gave me that year was so much bigger than a sweater box. She looked deeper and she saw me. Mrs. Gardner encouraged the writer in me, gave me wings and guided me to see through the lens of imagination to a place beyond my circumstances .
Mrs. Gardner added “hope” to my story.
Fast forward a few years to high school. Different town. Foster home. New school. And the story goes on.
Enter Dr. Gary Kerley, my high school English teacher. Insecure and lonely, I’d gone through a lot to get to this chapter of my story and was less likely to trust and share it with anyone. My voice had nearly been muted with only a whisper of hope left.
Apparently, that was enough.
Picture a short and round bespectacled man with a very wry and very dry sense of humor: Got it? This was Dr. Kerley! Just inside the classroom door, I was greeted by a Far Side calendar turned to this cartoon (I’d never seen these before) and I just about wet. my. pants!
Walking into his classroom that day in the middle of the school year wasn’t as challenging as it could have been. By this time, I could hold my own.
The challenge was in writing for Dr. Kerley and it wasn’t long before he had me digging deeper than I’d ever dug before. He encouraged me to carry the weight of a heavier story and to write from that place.
Somehow he made me want to go there every time.
And oh oh OH….the dreaded term paper with all the necessary accoutrements. GAH! How I hated those things until, once upon a time, THIS happened:
It was E.M. Forrester’s “A Passage To India” Geez Louise! WHY?!?
And yeah, it was late (remember…I HATED writing these things!)
But those words: “You got the gift!”
It was a life-changing moment. My story was born anew and I have never been the same since. #truestory.
I’ve been taking this trip down memory lane partially out of gratitude for these (and others) who helped shaped the writer and woman I’ve become…to say thankyou to them but also to say thank you to ALL the “Mrs. Gardener’s” and “Dr. Kerley’s” out there today.
You know some of them…they touched your life too.
You are one of them…touching the life of another and breathing new hope into their story today. I see it happening all over the place as we take the time to step into each others stories; helping to sort or carry the heavier bits because we understand what difficult business life can be.
I believe the Author births this story IN us,
in order to bring HIS story to life through us.
It was never meant for us alone.
So, we choose to listen.
We choose to see.
We give ears to the stories of others and sometimes,
we help to give their story a voice.
I saw it this past week…in the life of a precious Sister who took the time to be a “Mrs. Gardner”in the life of one of her students. Wonderful.
And you….I wonder…. when was the story born in you?
More importantly, How have you helped birth the story in another? Come, sit a spell and tell me all about your “Once upon a time….” I’d love to hear it.