I think this song, unlike many of my other tunes, is pretty self-explanatory. When you listen to it, you will not be left wondering, “what is she talking about?”. I don’t need to write a lengthy “story behind the song” for you to understand it or catch the intricacies of each phrase and lyric. But I do want to say a few words about it…
In the hands of a great storyteller, even the most mundane experiences and the most minuscule details can somehow be transformed into an epic drama that can leave you laughing, or crying, or pondering the meaning of your existence.
Story is EVERYTHING.
And the art of storytelling is truly that… an artform.
And art is a very mysterious thing.
The artist is charged with bringing this mystery into being.
The artist is the vessel, much like a mother carrying a child from conception, through the stages of gestation, until finally, birth, and then, life outside the womb. Breathing on its own.
I love a good story. And I love a good storyteller. One of my all-time favorite stories is The Lord of the Rings. In the movie, there is a great scene at the end when Sam and Frodo are all alone at a crucial moment. These lines haunt me and comfort me at the exact same time. I couldn’t say it better myself, so I’m just going to transcribe it:
Frodo : I can't do this, Sam.
Sam : I know.
It's all wrong
By rights we shouldn't even be here.
But we are.
It's like in the great stories Mr. Frodo.
The ones that really mattered.
Full of darkness and danger they were,
and sometimes you didn't want to know the end.
Because how could the end be happy.
How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad happened.
But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow.
Even darkness must pass.
A new day will come.
And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.
Those were the stories that stayed with you.
That meant something.
Even if you were too small to understand why.
But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand.
I know now.
Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t.
Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo : What are we holding on to, Sam?
Sam : That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.
When I was reading the bible, I began to ponder the stories that Jesus told and I started thinking about how interesting it was that he chose to communicate through stories. We call them “Parables”. The dictionary defines that word as “a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson”.
Honestly, sometimes the stories Jesus told are so weird, I am left scratching my head (as I’m sure many of his disciples were) thinking to myself, “What in the world is he talking about?” And then I would dig a little deeper and start to figure out the cultural context and things began to unlock. The brilliance of the parables were blowing my mind. I started to think of him as a master communicator in the art of storytelling. He needed to throw us off-kilter in his parables as he bucked every ‘norm’ and social convention that humans had erected, to find a new ways of communicating the gospel of grace. All of the sudden, his stories became thrilling and vibrant and stunningly beautiful because they are often confusing and that makes them intriguing. It makes you look closer. It makes you investigate deeper. And yet, they make perfect sense.
I mean seriously, how fascinating is this? If you believe Jesus was ‘God incarnate’... who knows ALL things... why is he telling stories/parables? Why isn’t he just dropping fact bombs left and right. Why isn’t he unpacking the mysteries of the universe in scientific irrefutable evidence?
My hypothesis is this: we need stories. And we need them because we ARE stories. We are living, breathing stories. Our whole human existence is God’s story that he is telling, and we are characters in this wildly interactive, and often very confusing, gorgeous story of God’s people living on the planet earth.
And there is room enough for each of us. We all fit. And we all have a part to play, somehow.
I am a story. You are a story. Our lives are a story. And our story is being told. It will have ups and downs, twists and turns, but we have got to hold on. “Why?” You ask? “What are we holding on to?”
That there is some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.