We all were telling stories on Thursday, stories about buying land outside Bogota, stories about my parents' trip in the car to Calgary and Vancouver and back again, and, naturally, stories about my unwanted journey. It's fascinating to realize just how important stories are to how we communicate with one another. Stories aren't the only way to communicate, but they sure are an effective means to do so.
One of the things I like about stories is their open-endedness. Stories honour the listener by allowing them to participate and to interpret in their own highly personal ways. Stories don't tell someone how to think. Stories don't lecture. They are implicit invitations to join in.
By way of example, my cousin and I were talking for awhile about their ministry in South America. She and her husband are managers of a Christian missionary program in which teams of young people go into churches and present dramas. In other words, they act out stories. Now I'm not a big fan of sermons in churches. They are far too didactic and preachy for my liking these days. But tell a story or put on a dramatic presentation and I'm right there with you.
Obviously, my blog is mostly about a story line these days. In fact, some good friends tell me that they only read the blogs in which I am telling a story. They're not particularly interested in scientific studies and research.
Fair enough. But even though I would argue those other entries have their place and are useful to other people, I have to admit that most family and friends are better served by blog entries in which I tell a story, whether it be a narrative about surgical complications, about medical mistakes, about the generosity of particular individuals (thanks, Ron, for the great book), about how I've been feeling, even about ways in which my unwanted journey has revealed truths to me that I would otherwise never have learned.
Cancer, when viewed medically or scientifically, is all about harsh material realities. Cancer, when viewed internally or socially, is all about stories. It's about how I as an individual or we as a community generate meaning through the shared drama of cancer. Yes, that's right. One perspective of cancer is that it is a narrative. In that sense, the story line of cancer can be if not always enjoyable, at least meaningful and memorable.