Monday, February 9, 2009

Book Excerpts #5 - WORDS DO THINGS

Everyone has a story.

Every single person has a tale, a profound epic battle raging inside that doesn’t always make the silver screen.

If we all had access to an M. Night Shyamalan, a Wes Anderson, or the Coen Brothers, wouldn’t life be grand?

If Brad Pit, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julia Roberts or Natalie Portman acted out your life, wouldn’t you feel glamorous?

Ahh, life as a screenplay...

But 99.9999999999% of us don’t have that access.

We do however have our groupings of friends, our small circles of influence, the people we have lunch with every day of the week, the friends we hang out at the local café to discuss politics and rehash the latest SNL; and those people, whether you believe it or not, want and need to hear our story.

So tell it already!

I’d like to think of myself as an observer of culture and my surroundings. I think I do a pretty adequate job of people watching – sometimes more people mocking, but I notice people nonetheless. And when I was in college I noticed something one day while walking through the campus’ quad. Just so we’re clear, my impression of college was great – it’s the only place I’ve been that everyone was cool with everyone. Seemingly no cliques, no insiders or outsiders, no nothing separated anyone from anyone. Maybe it was that we were all tired of our clique-ridden high schools, but nonetheless, the sense of true community was greater than I’d experienced, or have since experienced.

So I’m in what seems to be the safest, friendliest, most inclusive place ever, but for whatever reason, I noticed something that day.

I noticed people walking around, eyes and heads starring straight down as they passed one another. It was like a hurried race to and fro to avoid whatever it was that kept eye contact, face contact, heck any kind of contact from happening. But then I noticed something else. As I saw an acquaintance coming my way, I too took the comfortable low road of looking away.

On that day, this acquaintance was not worth my time, not worth my eye contact, not worth my acknowledgement.

And that makes me sad.

It speaks volumes; sad volumes about our culture, and even more on humanity.

It says that I am more valuable, more worthy; and they, them, you, aren’t worth my time.

And it wasn’t even perceived.

When I think about it today, it still makes me sad how often we divert our attentions and never tell our stories or open up and share our lives with one another.

We have the power to heal one another with our stories.

In James 5, the bible says we can heal one another with words, with stories, with prayer. Our stories can bridge the gap between the homeless and the wealthy. If we listen, we’ll find out that everyone has experienced times of joy, passion, loss, pain, regret, victory, and rejection.

My local church family is pretty diverse. There’s a percentage of folks that own fortune 500 corporations, and others that barely manage to make it from paycheck to paycheck. But at the end of the day, the stories of losing a loved one bring us together. The social lines are blurred when we realize we’ve all experienced the joy of seeing a child born. For at least a short moment, we all have something in common.

And those experiences bind us in ways we otherwise would have missed.

When we tell stories and listen to stories, we walk a little closer toward humanity.

When we walk closer toward humanity, a new community is built and anything is possible.

But we have to tell our stories.

We can’t look away.

We can’t divert our eyes.

We can’t become inward, when we know we need to be more outward. Because in the end, words do things - words do many, may things.

But sometimes, they make me scared.

So here's the song:

Head nod or turn away
Distracted, no notice
Don’t give him the time of day
Passer-by gone

Why do I live in my little World

Couldn’t care less what could’ve been said

‘Cause words do things –
they make me scared;
Scared of you

Here comes another
I stare at my feet
Not to bother;
Bother me


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