Where have you been? Where are you going? And why?
Paying Attention to Stories
October 9, 2007Posted by on
I wonder what sort of tale we’ve fallen into?
Sam and Frodo travel the perilous road to Mordor in J.R.R. Tolkien’s novel, The Two Towers. Sam asks this question aloud as he attempts to make sense of his unexpected journey. Their passage has been hard and painful. But through the epic voyage, a friendship has been forged that cannot be broken.
We would do well to ask Sam’s question to ourselves. For just as the hobbit’s road was marked with danger and surprise, it turns out that ours is as well. Good things happen. Beauty abounds in grand proportions. But disaster strikes against all hope, too. We long to return to a place of innocence, when our hearts knew not tragedy. In the midst of it, we look to other stories to help us guide the way.
John Eldredge writes, “We go to the movies because we hope to find in someone else’s story something that will help us understand our own.” If we understand at all, it’s usually only in bits and pieces. Other stories invite our hearts and minds into them; anticipation grows. Once we enter in, we begin to have new eyes to see. We may experience hope for our own condition. We may find company in suffering. Whichever it is, we know that we are drawn. We must listen closely. For the answer to Sam’s question could be the most important we ever hear.
Our stories tell us who we are, why we are here, and what we are to do. They give us our best answers to all of life’s big questions, and to most of the small ones as well.