Monday, November 20, 2006
The Power of Story
While I usually try to write about the holy ordinary, something extraordinary happened the other night that I wanted to share with folks. Carrie Newcomer, Scott Russell Sanders, Phil Gulley, and I put on an evening titled "Music and Memoirs: Story and Song." A benefit for a local foodbank, it combined Carrie's music with Phil's, Scott's, and my writing. We were hoping for around 200 folks to attend. By "show time" we'd put up an additional 60 chairs and turned about 50 people away. Imagine, 300 people coming to hear 4 Quaker-types share their words and music!
The evening consisted of 2 straight hours of Carrie's singing interwoven through times of Phil, Scott, and me reading. Some pieces were humorous; some serious. All were stories shot through with God's love and grace and a worldview filtered through a Friendly lens. People stayed glued to their seats -- no one, in the crowded room, got up and walked around, headed to the bathroom, or left. For 2 hours! And many lingered after it ended -- at 10:30 pm! They wanted to chat and thank us for sharing. My email has been full of notes asking for information about Quakerism and spirituality -- one came from the guy paid to run the sound and lights for the evening.
While my ego is stroked by such affirmation of our gift, that's not why I'm writing about this event. Why I'm writing is this evening reminded of the winsome power of spiritual stories offered with no objective other than sharing the Light which we've been given. We weren't trying to convert anybody. We weren't testing dogma or orthodoxy. Instead, we offered stories that spoke to life and our making our way through it with eyes Spirit-opened -- and people responded. There's a lesson here for us, I think. Perhaps we should worry a bit less about being right and worry more about being lovingly open and sharing our stories of faith (and doubt). 260+ people on a dark, fall Friday night found that an event they were willing to pay to attend. What would our "free" Firstday morning services be like if they were that open, honest, and filled with stories of faith from each of us?