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If my life is a single statement, then

“A human life is a single statement.” ~ Howard Thurman (in With Head and Heart) Isn’t that a fascinating thought in light of …

“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God…All things came into being through him.” ~ John 1:1-3

And

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said,” ~ Genesis 1: 1-3a

I am more than a word; I’m a whole statement. A breathing out of expression from God. Perhaps all of humanity is the expression of God’s wisdom. All the earth. All the world. All the worlds. All the universe. The whole spoken vocabulary of a God whose nature is Creation.

Now, I do take liberties with the written language, unapologetically, and to the chagrin of my editor, but still, the thought fascinates. If my life is a single statement, what does that look like? In have a capital letter to begin (born) and period at the end (death). But the rest, I am meant to fit in.

  • There are commas ,,, pauses to stop and think, perhaps re-group or re-route.
  • There are colons ::: to proclaim: this is what I mean.
  • There are semi-colons ;;; to join an additional idea I didn’t think of to begin with but now seems correct to add.
  • There are hyphens – to join two words into one or perhaps to connect a word so long that is sprawled onto the next line.
  • There are apostrophes ‘ ‘ ‘ for all those letters I left out in my rush to tell.
  • There are dashes — for those things that really didn’t need adding — the sentence didn’t really need — but people really should know.
  • There are ellipses … where I left something out or skipped right along.
  • There are Parenthesis ( ) to enumerate, add explanation or offer citation where it is deserved. Oh, I expect these are really lengthening my sentence, but one must give credit where credit is due.
  • There are quotations ” ” because sometimes only the original expression will suffice.
  • There are spaces    empty of anything, awkward because something really should go there, but what?

Did the author make a mistake? Leave out a letter. Make a deletion? And what of misspellings and insertions, strike-through’s and editorial comments in the margin. Remember all those red marks on your English paper? Those English teachers have a graphics department all their own!

But to these stalwart men and women (mostly women) I owe a great deal — for teaching me about grammar and spelling and the parts of speech. Helping me diagram sentences, assign subjects and objects, identify dependent and independent clauses and lasso the run-on sentences.

Because today I can look at my life as a single sentence spoken by God, a continuous out-pouring of breath, freely and joyfully being exclaimed.  I am its subject. My life’s purpose is its verb. The one I act on or act for is its object. With one inspiration, God breathed me into the world and the wind of the Spirit moves me along.

Wouldn’t it be great if when I came to my end God put an exclamation point? I’m not really sure how to punctuate that sentence but it seems right to ask.

Good Storytellers Use “the Voice”

“LITTLE PIG, LITTLE PIG, LET ME COME IN!”
There, did you read that in a big, deep voice? Reverend Miner says, “I hope so, or you’re not a very good storyteller.” Because you want the child to get the message: when danger comes knocking, don’t let it in. Isn’t it funny how children’s fiction speaks so much truth, in a voice that sounds very much like our own?

We are blessed at Floris with preachers who are good storytellers. Barbara  Miner went on to share the stories of no shower but my family loves me anyway, of Timber the golden retriever who lives to be with Becky, of famous people who have undermined our national trust, of a groom and bride who sob with 100% joy. Way to tug at our heartstrings, Barbara.

But story, well told, does that. It engages us and then unleashes the “aha!” But, more than that, it stays with us in a way that lectures and exhortations and, well, regular preaching, doesn’t. I love hearing a good story on Sunday, don’t you? Partly because I’m still chewing on it on a Monday morning. I guess I am a “morning after” person.

Now, true disclosure, I take notes during worship. I’ve done it for years, through the tenure of a number of pastors at several churches. I hope the folks sitting near me don’t find it distracting. They notes are for my Monday. They are actually an act of worship for me. I come on Sunday expecting a gift, so I bring my pen. And I am never disappointed.

Oh, the notes I take don’t look very much like this blog, because everything looks different on Monday morning in the light cast by worship. But today I am feeling better about this because Barbara has reminded us that it’s not about the words, it’s about how you say them.

I need to go back and read some of those children’s stories we still have on our kids’ shelves. That’s what they tell you to do if you want to write your own story…read what you’re trying to write. And, as it happens, I am in the middle of trying to write a children’s story.  It’s fictional, but the truth keeps getting in the way. Makes it hard to write, but I hope it will make it easier to read.

But, isn’t it like God to come to my rescue just as I am threatening to take myself too seriously? This morning, I am paging through gift catalogs on my kitchen counter – yes, that time is upon us – and open to a page of t-shirts with silly sayings. Somehow I gravitate to the page for scrabble players, I guess. One of the shirts reads:

“Let’s eat Grandma.
Let’s eat, Grandma.
Commas save lives.”
For a storyteller the message may be all in how you say it, but when you write it down, punctuation is NOT optional. Commas save lives!

If you just chuckled, too, perhaps you are a worship service note-taker who finds God on a Monday morning, too. Take it from me, the accidental blogger, you can trust Him. Remember, it’s all in how they READ it.

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