A good calling

Here’s one of the better stories to remember from October 2016.

“We live in a world where bad stories are told, stories that teach us life doesn’t mean anything and that humanity has no great purpose. It’s a good calling, then, to speak a better story. How brightly a better story shines. How easily the world looks to it in wonder. How grateful we are to hear these stories, and how happy it makes us to repeat them.” 
Donald Miller

Each of us could tell all sorts of stories about our lives, or about the world around us. Depending on where we direct our focus, we can make of this life a comedy or a tragedy; a grand adventure or an exercise in absurd futility.

If you’ve read Yann Martel’s wonderful book Life of Pi (or seen the film which is a worthy screen adaptation of the literary masterpiece) you know that the entire message of the tale is captured in the words of the protagonist at the end, when he asks the skeptics which is the better story to believe. Those of us who have always chosen hope over despair will feel vindicated by the book’s conclusion. No wonder President Obama called the book (in an unsolicited and largely unknown word of personal praise to the author) “an elegant proof of God.”

Truth is still truth, of course, whether we like it or not. Much of reality is harsh, and not all stories have happy endings. Yet, as in Martel’s book, victory can ultimately shine through defeat, and some of us will always believe that all earthly sorrows will be redeemed and made right in the end. My fondest hope, for every person reading this, is that each of us will discover the source of this invincible hope, and hold to our faith no matter what life may bring.

30 Comments

  1. There are so many good stories and stories of good out there, but it is all too easy to get sucked into the media’s gloom-mongering, especially when we are feeling vulnerable on a personal level.
    So, what can I tell you to make you smile? Well, I made a new friend recently and discovered that she had to have a mastectomy and has been suffering with her heavy, uncomfortable prosthesis. So, this weekend I have knitted her a light soft replacement like I make for my mum. I’m hoping to spread happiness one false breast at a time!

    • Jan, I smiled when I read your cheery news of your gift to a friend in need of encouragement. Even in the sad stories there are happy ones hidden away. We have to keep sharing those jewels with each other and rejoicing over the bounty that remains. Thanks for being here and for bringing another good story our way!

  2. The actual quote of the President’s words was, “an elegant proof of God, and the power of storytelling”. I am reminded of one of the Screwtape Letters wherein C.S. Lewis suggests out-and-out heresy is not necessary to turn “the patient” away from”the enemy” (God). Wormwood is encouraged to plant the concept of “Christianity AND [any other good cause]. The apostle Peter was so moved, on the Mount of Transfuguration, that he suggested honoring Jesus AND Moses AND Elijah (all three “and” emphases above are mine). See God’s answer in Matthew 17:5 & Mark 9:7

    • Lewis agreed with the President about the power of storytelling, and apparently Jesus did too, since he spoke so much truth in the form of parables. Indeed we should listen to him!

  3. Good morning, Julia!
    Paul knew this, years ago, when he wrote Philippines 4:8 –
    “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (KJV)
    It’s a good recipe for joy!

    • Susan, that is one of my all-time favorite verses! 🙂 It has been a light in my life for decades.

      • It shows! 😀

        • Aw, thanks. Some days it shows more than others, I guess.

  4. Sheila

    Good morning, Julia. ☕️ Hope and faith will see us through, day by day. Thank you for sharing this family moment of goodness and happiness. You have given so much encouragement and hope over the years with your blog, through your photographs, words, and wisdom. Your friendship is priceless! 💖

    • Aww, thank you Sheila. I so appreciate your kindness to my family. Love the little pictures with your comments, but I still can’t figure out how to use them in WordPress comments myself! I tried copying them from you and pasting them, but it doesn’t work. So I’ll just enjoy yours. 🙂 ❤

  5. jholley1954

    Haven’t told you in a while, Julia, but I do so enjoy your blogs. As one who shares in your effort to defeat despair in the face of a tremendous loss by death (my nephew Josh), many days your words start out my day on a happy note. Always keeping you in my prayers.
    Much Love,
    Cousin Judy

    • Judy, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope my words will continue to bring you some comfort. It’s a great consolation to be together here. ❤ Thanks for your prayers — I will be praying for you and the family to find solace as you grieve for Josh.

  6. Carolyn

    A sweet picture, love you all.

    • Thank you Carolyn, we love you too!

  7. Maxine

    A DOUBLE THANK YOU! I TRY TO LIVE BY THIS FAITH,PRAYING FOR GOD TO HELP ALL THE HELPLESS,ENCOURAGE ALL AROUND ME TO READ GODS DIRECTIONS AND FOLLOW THEM.

    • Thank you Maxine. It is always such a joy to see you here. Our memories of the wonderful years we shared in northern California are still among our all-time favorites. The passage of time has only made them more treasured. Keep shining that light!

  8. Look at your little pumpkins (and one big pumpkin, ha) ! I wish them the best Halloween fun possible this year.
    You know, we went to the cinema to see Life Of Pi. I left sobbbing after the tiger thing and storm thing. Left Jim to finish it. He later said that was the worst of it, but I couldn’t pull myself together to watch. I should know better than try to watch any movie with animal hardship. I know it’s not good, but I feel more for animals than people at times. I can’t help it, it’s deep in my DNA. There’s no stopping the tears and there’s no reasoning (like, it’s a story, it’s not really happening). One movie we saw with Jeff Bridges has him pushing a horse hard to save a young girls life. They’re riding full speed for far too long and the poor horse collaspes and dies. Que uncontrolable sobbing by la Boomdee……I don’t know what happened after that, I had to find the ladies room for tissues and to get a grip and missed the next 20 minutes of the show. What does this have to do with sorrow you’re wondering? I think of myself as a sorrow sponge. I see a person or animal in pain, sadness or hopelessness and I’m a mess. I’m blessed to have a life today that spares me but everyone will endure at some point in our lives and I guess we just do the best we can to get through it. xoxo K

    • I wish they had made a special “Suitable for Boomdee viewing” version of the movie, because it’s a lovely story, but I know how upsetting movies can be. I don’t know if I ever got over Old Yeller’s death in either the book or the movie. If you haven’t seen that old film, you probably shouldn’t, although it’s a great story too. Ditto for the more recent movie “Hachi: A Dog’s Story” although you might be able to stand reading the true story on which it was based. I think your being a “sorrow sponge” is tied up with your being such a loving, giving person. It might cost you a lot of tissues but it also means that you are a blessing to many people you meet, whether you know them only for a few seconds or for many years.

      • oh honey, that’s just really so kind of you to say ❤ ❤ big, tight, long hug ! xo K

      • ps, I linked to the story of Hachi 😀 thank you for sharing that, I hadn’t ever heard of Hachi and probably wouldn’t get through the book without sobbing. A dogs love is heaven on earth for me. xo

        • Oh, the movie is so good! But the real story is even more impressive. After we saw it, Jeff and I talked about someday getting a Shiba Inu (which is like a miniature Akita). If I ever go to Japan, I’d like to see Hachiko’s statue.

    • Aw, Boomdeeadda, I can relate – I’m tearing up while reading your post!
      Sharing your dislike for uncontrollable sobbing in public (mine, especially), I watch movies like that in the privacy of my own home, where I can scatter a box load of used tissues around me until my eyes are so swollen that I can barely see, to pick them all up! But in the case of Life of Pi, well, there are a few other gruesome events, but I close my eyes (or go for more tissues) at those points, and IMHO, Life of Pi was well worth watching, and I’d watch it again. There’s beauty, there’s mystery, and there’s a really cool take away message that I can’t even put into words…. So unfortunately (?) you would have to either read the book (which is perhaps less graphic?) or watch the movie, which has some incredible cinematography or visually inspiring aspects.
      If you don’t, you don’t, but I hope that you can experience it at some point.
      NOTE: I think I read that No actual animals were hurt during the making of this movie! (I’m pretty sure that much of it was computer generated.)

      • I do think it had to have been computer generated — but it was amazing. The Meerkat island scenes alone were enough to make it worth watching.

  9. Julia, Terrific post.
    St. Augustine tells us that: “Faith is to believe what you do not see;
    the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.”
    That faith is rewarded on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
    -Alan

    • Alan, I love that quote from St. Augustine. I had a small plaque with that quote (in a slightly different translation, against a background photo of a candle burning) in the tiny apartment where I lived during the years Jeff and I were engaged.

  10. Amy Hill

    “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” God loves us and has a home prepared for us. Remember, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” I’ll see you there. I love you.

    • Yes, a good thing that grows better and better as time goes by. Thanks for reminding me of that quote, which is also one that Raynard likes a lot. I like the Bible verse too, and take comfort in the idea that hope will not disappoint us. Thanks for being so good to Matt. Love you.

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