“Up home we loved a good storm coming, we’d fly outdoors and run up and down to meet it,” her mother used to say. “We children would run as fast as we could go along the top of that mountain when the wind was blowing, holding our arms right open. The wilder it blew the better we liked it.”
― Eudora Welty, from The Optimist’s Daughter
Eudora Welty is one of my favorite writers. She was cut from Faulkner’s cloth, but was a little more accessible and significantly more sober. Born in Jackson Mississippi in 1909, she lived 92 rich years until passing away in 2001. She wrote about the South in ways only a Southerner can appreciate.
Like me, she fell in love with books before she could read them because she loved a good story. She said
“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”
There’s power in a story, like power in a storm. We first feel it in the air and hear its thunder in the distance. By the time the wind and rain come, we are completely drawn in and all we want to do is sit on a porch swing and watch it fall.
Jesus understood that power. He was a wonderful storyteller. I love this exchange between Him and the disciples –
“The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”
He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. “(Matthew 13:10-14, from The Message)
Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.