So I says to him—I says—that’ll never go through this door.
My grandfather died the year I graduated from high school, but still, I hear his voice, telling another of his stories. Always—always, they were punctuated with spaces.
They were spaces in which he caught his breath.
When he walked from the front porch to the kitchen, he always stopped at the desk behind his easy chair. Every time. Leaning with his big hands on the edge of the desktop, he breathed deep, his powerful chest muscles expelling the bad air and drawing in good.
I felt the tell-tale tightening in my chest earlier today, a sign that my own bronchial issues may soon overtake me again. I couldn’t help but think of the old man.
Experience tells me that, even should I succumb to the malady completely, I will breathe freely again very soon. But, these moments remind me of folks who’ve gone before—people I have loved and who have loved me.
They remind me of other things, as well.
My grandfather, he of the interrupted sentences, was a storyteller. He loved a good story. More than that, he loved being surrounded by people who listened to the stories he told. The gaps for breathing, at first an annoyance to both the teller and the listener, soon became room for thought and reason for suspense.
A good storyteller uses the tools with which he is provided.
Grandpa was a good storyteller. Health impediment or not, he was going to tell his stories.
I’m a storyteller too. You might say, it’s in my blood. Kind of like the lung issues. From my grandfather to my son, the males in my family have experienced similar problems of varying degrees. Without a say in the inheritance, we have each passed down the frailty to the succeeding generation.
May I talk about the storytelling and passing things down for a moment? I promise to be nearly succinct. The reader will have to be the judge of whether the time is well spent.
Did you know our Creator commanded us to be storytellers? And, He expected us to pass the love of telling stories down through the generations? His instructions—oddly enough, passed through another storyteller—were clear.
Parents tell your children. Tell them in your home, as you’re hiking on a trail, and when you’re in the shopping centers. Through all the ages, tell them. Give them reason to believe and to trust in a God who provides and protects. (Deuteronomy 11:18-20)
The testimony of previous generations is a bridge over which we cross the raging floods of cultural deception and shifting doctrine. If we fail to provide those bridges for our children, our progeny will be washed away in the roiling currents and howling rapids.
Tell the stories! Use words that are accurate and attractive. Put them to music, rhyme the syllables, and give them rhythm. Paint them on a canvas, or carve them in stone.
Tell the stories!
The Lovely Lady—my favorite walking companion—and I wandered along an abandoned roadbed just a few days hence. We had a goal in mind, a century-old bridge, now abandoned, but still standing. It has not carried traffic for a number of years.
A monument to the past, the framework stands. There is even a roadway across, but a few steps onto it and one soon realizes that it will never support the weight of a vehicle again.
A monument—nothing more.
Bridges are meant to be more than monuments. Properly maintained and kept, they smoothly move traffic from the place left behind to the destination. Abandoned, they serve no purpose, but rust and rot into the landscape, forcing the traveler to choose a different route or be carried away in the flood.
I will build bridges.
With my last breath, I will tell the stories.With my last breath, I will tell the stories. Click To Tweet
As my lovely companion and I wandered, almost sadly, away from the beautiful old span, I realized that my faulty lungs might make the half-mile trek back to the road difficult and wondered about the wisdom of making the trip.
I needn’t have worried. Companions are made to help each other on the road.
We don’t walk the road alone—don’t build the bridges alone—don’t cross them alone.
Surrounded by a great cloud of storytellers, we press on.
To our last breath.
Tell the Story.
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!
(Hebrews 12:1,2 ~ The Message)
For in Calormen, story-telling (whether the stories are true or made up) is a thing you’re taught, just as English boys and girls are taught essay-writing. The difference is that people want to hear the stories, whereas I never heard of anyone who wanted to read the essays.
(from A Horse and His Boy ~ C.S. Lewis ~ English author ~ 1898-1963)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2017. All Rights Reserved.