Sometimes, between our two church services, I have some free time. This does not always happen, because I’m often teaching Sunday School or visiting Sunday School classes or holding babies in the nursery or dealing with whatever situation has arisen between the moment I arrive and when the first service ended. But sometimes, I have about 30 minutes free on a Sunday morning.
Today, I had free time. As I poured a cup of coffee and checked some text messages on my phone, I noticed Mr. Hedges, an octogenarian of our church family, sitting at the historic round table in our fellowship hall. I walked back to my office, dropped my phone on my desk and headed back for the round table. I settled into a chair across the table from him.
I entertained him with a story about how we had our early service in the courtyard and how the sunlight moved from one end of the courtyard to the other between 8:30 and 9:30 and about which church members ended up in direct sunlight by the prayer time and how the wind would gust and it blew my bulletin and music away while I was leading the opening songs. He told me stories about what was happening around his house. We looked at a bulletin together and he noted that we were using some Long Catechism questions in worship.
“Did you memorize the catechism when you were a child?” He wondered.
“No, sir,” I replied. “I grew up Presbyterian, but honestly, I didn’t even know there was a catechism until I was in college.”
“I memorized it when I was a boy. I don’t suppose children do that any more.”
“No, they don’t here anyway.” And then we talked for a moment or two about what children do in Sunday School these days–it’s a bit different than what either he or I remember from our respective childhoods.
We talked about departed church members, about homebound church members, about names I can’t remember or he can’t remember. We traded stories about this person or that person.
I’ve been trying to do this more and more. The people at Presbyterian Church in Henderson have become my extended family. I stay plenty busy, but on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, I try to spend time with my family.
I marvel at the stories each of us have filled our lives with–stories that are ours alone to share and tell. I think about my friend Mr. Hedges, and the stories he could tell about the life he’s lived. I want to listen to them and hear them. It makes me sad when I think about the stories that don’t get told and the stories I haven’t asked to hear.
This makes me think about the time I’m taking to hear stories. Probably not enough.
This also makes me think about the time I’m taking to tell stories. Possibly too much? I do like my stories. I do like to share my stories. I might do better to listen more and share less.
I guess this blog is a form of storytelling for me. I enjoy looking back on past entries and remembering events and things that happened. I think I’ll remember the events of my life better because I’ve taken the time to write them and read them.
Whose stories are you listening to? How are you telling yours?