Updated: Jul 20, 2018
This week I made a hasty trip to Delaware to see my mom. She had another fall last weekend and I was worried about her. She is 94.5 and I know our time is precious. As it turns out she was okay and she is feeling better. One night in the hospital while we were waiting for test results we talked in the quiet of the evening.
She started to reminisce about the first church she and Dad served in Westchester, New York. One particular story came to mind of an evening Bible study in the parsonage. One of the members was very pregnant and started to go into labor that night. My parents noticed that it was time to wrap up the lesson so this lady could get to the hospital, but not everyone was aware so some people peppered my father with questions about the passage while others tried to figure out how to wrap things up. So the conversation continued as this 1950’s crowd found the subject to delicate to mention, but also recognized that this woman and her husband needed to make their exit. I had heard the story before but Mom laughed as though she was back there again in that living room. Her obvious enjoyment and savoring of the details made me think of this story, like a gem she holds in her pocket of memories, a gem she polishes with each re-telling.
Stories are like that. They embrace a bigger world than their facts, and sometimes the facts wobble a little but that does not dim our appreciation and joy hearing them. Sometimes the people who read the Bible get all hung up on whether it is “true” or not. Some of our fundamentalist brothers and sisters need to believe that scripture is literal. When Bible stories stretch credibility they will tell you that it is a test of your faith, so you better believe them. Sadly, this approach has not helped many modern people understand the Bible’s beauty.
What I love about the Bible is that it is full of great stories, stones we polish and re-examine and enjoy. It could not matter less to me whether we can verify that the Red Sea parted exactly. I know that the Hebrew slaves were freed, and that somehow they found a route on dry land through a part of the sea marsh that then flooded again when Pharaoh’s troops arrived. I know the people experience this deliverance as nothing less than a miracle.
I know Margie Hall had a baby boy in 1955 and he is a minister today. He will tell you he was almost born in a Bible study class all those years ago. I know God is real, and God is with us whenever we can laugh together and share a story even in a hospital room where we don’t have too many answers, but we have stories that bring us home to holy ground.
My fellow pilgrims - many blessings