by Sr. Roselynn Humbert
I have noticed lately that when conversing I often find cues that lead me to tell a story. Some of these stories are true; they actually happened to me or people I know. Some stories are funny and may have happened. I said recently that to get to my age and not have lots of stories would be unusual.
I have a friend who has a collection of stories he likes to tell. Most of them are fairly long and have a punch line. Some are true. I’m sure we all know someone like this. Those of us who know him well can prompt him to tell stories to those who have never heard them.
At Christmas we are reminded of many stories. Some we remember such as stories being read to us like the Gospel stories of Jesus’ birth, or the poem It Was the Night Before Christmas. There are presentations in theaters like The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol. There are films some of us grew up with such as A Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Holiday Inn. As TV entered our lives we watched Frosty the Snowman, Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, and Charlie Brown’s Christmas. So many stories are told at this time of year and the ones I like most affect my heart.
Then there are the family stories. For instance, the Christmas I drove to my sister Lynn’s home in Cleveland and left all the clothes I had planned to bring on hangers back in my apartment. There are sad stories. The Christmas after my father died and we missed him so much and mourned as well as celebrated with my mother.
Stories are an integral part of the human experience. How we remember significant persons in our lives is very much bound up with the stories we remember or tell about them. The story of our God becoming one of us included the good stories and the not-o-good: Jesus’ complete dependency as a child (including “diapers” and “falling down when learning to walk”) was only the beginning of the story of his love. God took on our human nature in all its many joys and struggles.
I think this is what drew Francis of Assisi to follow in his footsteps. Francis knew his own weaknesses and felt called to be of service to the weak, the lepers, the sick. His devotion to the Mystery of Jesus was celebrated in his live nativity scene in Greccio the year before he died. Onlookers saw him holding the Babe of Bethlehem and laying him in the manger.
As we draw so near to the celebration of Jesus’ birth in a barn, wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a feedbox for animals, what stories are you moved by? How is your heart moved by the joys and sorrows of your own life story? I pray that each of you who read this will be moved to love, forgiveness and peace this Christmas Season.