From the first leaf change
To brilliant peak of color
A time of memories, nostalgia, wistful thoughts of seasons past
Harvest, a shift from the bounty of the land
The day after Thanksgiving has been designated as a National Day of Listening, a day to ask those we love to tell us some of their stories. This year they are emphasizing the stories of veterans, active duty military and their families. With a brother still serving in the Air Force my family always enjoys listening to his stories; we have some recorded, some are written, and some we lived second-hand through media. In a recent chapel speech at Freed-Hardeman University he reminded the students that the military family gives as well as the one in uniform; the wife or husband, the children all make sacrifices.
Have you heard of StoryCorps? It is a national nonprofit “whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives.” If you click the link for StoryCorps you will find lots of help if you want to record a story. Ask questions to get the story started. The website even has suggestions for questions. In case you are too lazy to look, I’ve copied a few here.
- What was the happiest moment of your life? The saddest?
- Who was the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
- Who has been the biggest influence on your life? What lessons did that person teach you?
- Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
- What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
- What is your earliest memory?
- Are there any words of wisdom you’d like to pass along to me?
- What are you proudest of in your life?
- When in life have you felt most alone?
- How has your life been different than what you’d imagined?
In my Monday posts I’ve been sharing recorded stories from my father. I can’t tell you how much my brothers and their children appreciate hearing his voice tell about his life growing up in western Kentucky. We just wish we had the same from Mama. We have a lot of her stories in her letters and own writing, but just hearing her voice again would be so sweet.
One Sunday I heard a sweet white-haired sister read the Bible at church. Her voice and inflection reminded me so much of my mother’s way of reading Scripture; I wish I had a recording of her reading God’s Word. Why not have your parent or grandparent read their favorite passage of Scripture? StoryCorps recommends the website SoundCloud.com for recording stories. I’ve not personally used it, but it’s worth checking out.
The questions and categories suggested by StoryCorps are great, but I think they have omitted an essential part of life for believers – the spiritual dimension of a life. I’ve thought of a few questions you might be able to use.
- When were you baptized? Or decide to give your life to Christ? (put in the wording that fits your faith)
- How has God directed your life?
- When have you felt the closest to God?
- How did you learn to be a Bible teacher, song leader, church leader, pray?
- What is your favorite Bible verse? Favorite hymn?
Storytelling has long been the method for generations to learn and pass down experiences and wisdom. In Bible times the Jews told and retold the stories of the Israelites leaving Egypt, crossing the Red Sea. In the 21st century we are so attuned to technology that we seldom tell stories of our ancestors. There is power in storytelling, healing even. Those who live through the ravages of a storm which takes away all the technology with a snap of tree limbs or waves of ocean suddenly realize we haven’t lost our hunger for stories; we just found them through electronics and the Internet. Time is sucked up with TV, electronic games, phone texting, Internet media. Jen Hatmaker’s family fasted a month from all but 7 forms of media. Others have written about their own experiments of doing without media. All seem to find the same truths – we talk to each other more, become more creative, use other avenues for entertainment.
Okay, I’m leaving this soapbox of preaching to myself to say, get those stories recorded! If you’ve missed the opportunity this holiday, plan ahead for Christmas gatherings.
I am immensely thankful for:
- Men and women who sacrifice to serve in our military
- Families of the military who also sacrifice
- Family stories that teach and heal and provide insight long after the person is gone
- Family legacies that are preserved in stories, family trees, artifacts, and photos
I’m counting the joys in God’s richest blessings of memory, home, and comfort. May God bless you and your family with all that you need.