A Different Kind Of Story
It’s been so long I’ve almost forgotten my voice. That place of depth, clarity and wisdom from within has felt all but dead these last few years. The wisdom’s so often been turned to anger, too often become a thing consuming me in the worst kind of way.
My soul is still out to sea. I can hardly remember what land even looks like anymore.
Mom would say its Jesus I’m in need of, a chorus of friends nodding their heads in agreement. But some narratives grow so thin, are stretched and worn out to the point of falling apart that no one dare play the reel for fear of it disintegrating before their very eyes.
Let’s pretend that the Christ narrative was a vehicle I rode around in for many, many years. That vehicle, like all vehicles, eventually broke down. So here I am, trying to assess exactly what is salvageable and what needs to be left behind.
For the first time in years I am finally ready (I think) to begin picking over all these rusty parts. I’ve got a few parts from other vehicles I’ve used here and there. Perhaps I can put together something that will take me down the road a piece. Something that can transport me through this life and maybe even into the next.
See here’s the thing about stories, the thing about narratives. Once you understand the basics of how these kinds of things are structured and the power they have to carry you along to the point that you actually believe they are real you begin to realize the thing for what it is.
You wake up to the fact that not only is everything stories, but that also everything you do in your life is dictated by the stories you tell yourself about your life.
With that being the case I suppose it’s up to me to choose which story I want to use to fuel my life.
So most of my basic needs are met. I have food on the table, roof overhead, my health and a relatively happy family nearby. For the better part of a few million years these are the things that we as a species strove for. And now, at the beginning of this new millennium, many of us in the West have most of what we need for survival (and most of us have much more).
The thing that I find lacking, the thing that eludes me to the point of utter desperation, the thing that I personally attribute so much of my personal and our cultural depression, sickness, sadness, anger, fear and outright emptiness to is not necessarily a narrative of faith but a narrative of community.
Humans are not meant to be out of community. We’ve spent 99.9% of our existence as a people in community. The advent of mass agricultural technology allows us to disconnect from a place and roam about listlessly, freely picking up roots and creating a narrative that attempts to transcend our basic humanness.
At the core we are communal animals. The last 100 years have become an unintended worldwide experiment in what happens to humans when they are no longer bound to a community for their existence. We have risen above the family, above the tribe, above the village, and above the town.
This mass transcendence is so strange, so unnatural, that none of us are equipped to deal with the ramifications of this disconnect.
It’s as if an entire ecosystem decided to uproot its various parts and go off in separate directions. As if each tree, root, plant, and animal took on an ego unto itself and asserted that they no longer needed one another to live.
I write all this to say that I often struggle through everyday longing for true connection. For the grace, love, acceptance and deep sense of belonging that can only be found in communion with others.
Is this just a kind of romantic nostalgia for a time that never was? If it is, then why do I see nearly everyone in my generation seeking after the same thing? We are grasping at community in whatever way we can find it, desperately trying to reconnect that severed part of ourselves with the larger whole.
Community is what we all need yet most of us have no idea what it looks like or how to create it.
Where do we, where do I, go from here?