How to begin?

Mickey Cray had been out of work ever since a dead iguana fell from a palm tree and hit him on the head…

…”Me, too, Lucille.”

[Carl Hiaasen, Chomp, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf), 2012, pp. 1, 290]

Like real life, it’s full of secrets and sacrifice. Money and fame change people, but so do kindness and courage. The second rate reality star gets chomped by a long list of critters and insects and stumbles into helpfulness. A family faces medical bills and two young people become friends for life. Not too dark, not to sweet.

There’s an art to starting a story, and how we begin telling our own tales can intrigue or bore ourselves and others. If we think our lives are dull, we will use flat words written with broken pencils. If we see our lives as adventures, a dead iguana may start the whole thing moving. This goes double for our faith stories: how we feel about them will come across in how we tell them to ourselves and others. Are there a few dead iguanas, flashes of light and thunder, brave children foiling evil plots, something that we can’t quite tame that makes the heart beat? I certainly hope so!

How will you begin your story? How will you tell me all about your sacred life? I wonder. There’s no real beginning and no real end, but there are always places to start and specific chapters to end. If I were telling you my story, I’d begin like this:

Is an eighty-six year old man strong enough to get my head above water? I hope so, because Pastor Chase is taking a long time, and this is only the first of three dunks in my Merrymeeting Lake baptism…

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

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