Monday, May 8, 2017

Manna

When I saw the flyer for the storytelling gathering, I was intrigued. Mom and I attended and enjoyed the company of once-strangers.

I applaud the woman who organized the event.

In the weeks following the gathering, I've been thinking about the formalized effort to gather people together to tell stories. It's a reflection of our 21st century disconnection from one another and our yearning to reconnect.

You see, my grandmother would never have thought to invite people to tell their stories, for they already did. On the porch, in the church foyer, around the quilting frames.

Mr. Shultz from down the street would mosey on over to Grandma's porch every night when the sun went down. They'd soon be joined by Mrs. Jones, the happy red-haired neighbor, and the renter in the back.

As a child, my mother's favorite place was under the quilting frames when the neighbor ladies gathered to quilt. Oh the stories she heard and repeated. How those stories got her in trouble when she repeated them to the neighbor lady who was the subject of one of those stories.

Almost everyday, Aunt Helen sat in the kitchen with Mrs. Wright over a cup of coffee. I loved my best friend's mother and her aunt, and will never forget the way Aunt Helen said my name with her Greek accent, "Patreeesha." They brought Val and me into their stories, their conversations, because there was time and the need to engage without realizing that need. It was just a way of life.

Busyness is as detrimental as lazy-ness.

It's that misperception of busyness that keeps us on a train track that never stops. But there are stops, and at each station are benches. We are meant to pause and to tell our stories.

My mother doesn't know her neighbors. My sister knows the neighbor on one side. When an acquaintance heard a child crying, he didn't try to find who it was, because he didn't know the families. He later learned the child was in an abusive situation.

I am most thankful to my friend Lisa, who texts us every Monday night to see who's hiking on Tuesday morning. I cherish those hikes not only for the exercise, but because it's storytelling time. Our one friend characterized the hike as "Manna to her soul."

Manna is the food miraculously supplied to the Israelites on their journey through the wilderness. It was a forty year journey, and the Lord knew they needed sustenance.

He gave them manna, and they had to collect it everyday except the Sabbath.

Our relationships, our stories, are manna to one another. We must collect it six days a week, and double up for the seventh, to nourish our existence. Just as it was the Israelites' gift from God, so is our need to connect a gift from God.

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