Thursday, October 9, 2008

Telling Stories

Children sometimes have a favorite story which they request again and again, often to the dismay of their weary parents. Why do they do that? Is it because they’re entranced by the subtle nuances of the plot? No! The story, wonderful though it may be, is not what draws them. They are drawn by the act of telling the story and by the storyteller. Through repetition, stories can take root in our minds and in our souls. Stories become an important part of who we are.

Exodus 16 tells more of the Israelites’ wandering in the desert, when they grumbled about the food situation and romanticized the “good old days” of being slaves in Egypt. God provided through manna (great name – “what is it?”) and quail. It’s narrative. Through the story, we have an account of what happened. Psalm 105 also tells of the Exodus and the Israelites’ wandering in the desert, and tells briefly of God meeting their needs for food and water there. Same event, different account. It has fewer details, and is written more poetically. Both are important to our heritage.

When I was a full-time teacher, I took a class one summer on integrating science and writing. Not just the very objective third-person passive voice science writing, but also creative writing. While I’m pretty good at the first one, the creative type takes a lot more effort, and doesn’t usually come out as well. And I loved it! It was difficult, but the process of writing caused me to look more deeply at the people and situations around me as I sought to express what I saw.

That’s kind of what the Psalms are like – creative expression of important experiences in life with God, passed down through generations through worship.

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