You would think the One who invented speech would know how to use it best.
When the Word who gave life to the stars, the heavens, the dragonflies and the birds of paradise dwelt with us we might see a little of how to really communicate,
… and he told stories.
Does it surprise you? Sometimes it confuses me that Jesus used stories that not everyone (hardly anyone it seems sometimes) even understood. Those beautiful, messy, crazy disciples must have spent many a paper, scissors, rock competition arguing over who would ask what he meant this time.
One version describes the purpose of these stories as – But to those who can’t see it yet, everything comes in stories, creating readiness, nudging them toward receptive insight. (Mark 4 – The Message)
|free stock photo from here|
A story has power.
A story meets us wherever we are and relates to our current understanding.
We don’t always need to be hit repeatedly in the face with the ‘did you get it, shall I explain it to you?’ when we are learning. (If you have ever had a young child tell you a joke this experience will be common for you.)
It is in the leaning in, the revisiting, the ruminating that we unfold the layers of the story.
If you have ever read a beautifully written book you will know this thing about layers of understanding, layers of meaning, layers of engagement. What is so beautiful about this experience is that it engages you where you are at right now…. and then, when the time is right, it engages you again in a new way.
Just like the parables of Jesus – layer upon layer upon layer (just like a good flaky puff pastry).
We know stories – not because we have to learn them – we have to learn how to spell Mississippi and how to work out the circumference of a circle and the weight bearing capabilities of a beam. Stories though we know because we engage with them – we roll them around in the movie of our minds, we feel the emotions of the characters, we imagine ourselves in their shoes.
It is stories not encyclopaedias that people reach for again and again and the one who really wants to communicate well will do well to tell a story and a story needn’t be words.
May we be storytellers.