I wake up and look around. I find myself in a strange place. My personal narrative has changed as has the narrative of the country. I accustom myself to a new reality wondering if the joyful narrative had been real at all. I knew it had, though. Not so much time has passed as to eliminate my belief in it. Not only had it been real, but it was one deserving of a story. Yet time was passing. I had little desire to lend any expression to what had been real. After all it is the new real where life is lived and that story has so much verbiage, worthwhile stories of the old real could rarely be heard.
Though I contend it deserves a story, I do not pretend my narrative is worthwhile in any way other than the mundane. I also know my sadness of the loss of family and friends, which in the previous year was immense, is common to everyone. What I would say of the likes of people and place could be of interest to anyone is doubtful in the best of times, let in alone in times that no one calls best. The story I would have to tell would not fit the narrative of a new reality.
I am not unique among people. All of us wake up in a strange place. This is especially the case now as our nation has a new fondness of talking of tyranny or a new day, depending on one’s perspective. But I have little interest in either vocabulary. I do not believe we are in a new day of American greatness. Yet living life in constant protest is no better an option than bowing to unfettered authority. Neither narrative is any more deserving of our time than the narratives of hopelessness or perpetual sorrow that comes from loss. Our narratives contain these things, but they need not be consumed by them.
I’ve stories to tell, but the ones I know are not stories that always praise or protest the ways of the world. At times, they may speak against injustice, though without anger. Neither are they stories of unending loss and sorrow. They are rather stories that praise heaven and earth. Mostly they are stories of life lived in a narrative where we have only God’s grace and the goodness of our neighbor. These are the stories we must tell now more than ever, though they have always been the stories that demand our attention.
No matter the place or circumstance, we all wake up in a strange place every day. We rise to new mornings and new realities as pilgrims in a place we do not know. We long to return from exile with our memories of a garden and its nostalgia. Yet we do not walk the new days unencumbered or lacking hope. Every day the earth casts a reflection of heaven and along the way we do have our fellow sojourners. We also have our stories. We do not pretend these lack tears, though we know they are not bereft of laughter either. In the end, we also know our stories are not ones confined to a lonely sphere where we will be left without any knowledge of the undiscovered country. At the end of days will be the day with no end. At that time tyranny and protest will be no more and sorrow and loss will be vanquished. Until that day, already begun in eternal time, we have our stories of an often sad, but peculiarly beautiful world of being strangers in a strange land. These are the stories we have always told and the ones we must always continue to tell.
Image: Woodland in Marion County Ohio; not strange but it is a bit ethereal