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The Power of Story

Published by Chapster on 2006/3/11 (1602 reads)
Remember stenciling patterns when you were a child? Our life stories are just a big 'ol stencil!

All sorrows can be borne if you
put them into a story or tell a story about them.
- Isak Dinesen

A little story. Apart from identifying facts being changed, it is absolutely true. One night I was sleeping soundly in the hospital call room. My beeper went off and I was called to a "code." The doctors were attempting to resuscitate the patient. Unfortunately, it was not successful.

The doctor asked me to call the patient's sister and tell her that her brother had died. This is really the doctor's job but the physician was in no mood to be trifled with. When I called his sister groggily answered the phone.


"Hello, is this Ms. R?

"Yes, it is.

"Well, Ms. R. I'm Mike Davis, the chaplain here at the hospital and I just wanted to call and let you know that your brother has taken a turn for the worse.

"Oh, that's okay. I know.

"You know? Did someone already call you?

"No. It's just that we knew this was going to happen. We knew he was going to die before Wednesday.

"Uh, huh... Do you mind if I ask HOW you knew he was going to die before then?"

"Oh my no, not at all. See, we knew this was coming because there were nine of us children. There are only two of us left now. And not one of us has lived past 62 years old. Well, Bill was going to be 62 years old on Wednesday. That's how we knew."

Stories are powerful. There are stories that have impacted every aspect of our lives. People who lived in the Great Depression save paper towels. People who have lived under the heels of discrimination may expect discrimination. People who've confronted grief early in life often avoid it like the plague, later. Our stories are nothing more than our experiences. Our experiences are the most important basis of our life choices and our personal realities. We often repeat the same old stories over and over, intentionally and unintentionally. Still, they are always present. They are the lenses through which we understand what happens to us.
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