I spent last week hanging out with Lily Isaacs, finishing the latest (and hopefully almost the last) draft of her book. If you remember, last winter I blogged about how traveling on the bus with her band made me feel like a rock star. Anyway we pretty much got through it by Thursday afternoon, at which point I sat in her living room and thought about stories.
Specifically, life stories.
I used to think these things called life stories were so straightforward – you know, sit down and write about your life, right? Aren’t our stories just time lines, one event after another? And if so, isn’t writing a life story just about taking those points on the line and writing about them?
It’s just not that easy.
What I’ve come to realize, while trying to wrap up Lily’s story, is that our lives couldn’t be any further from simple lines with dots. I think they’re more like the tiny, individual strands of a very thick rope. Our lives are so entwined with the stories of the people around us that there is no way to cut them all off and get down to that single strand without ruining the whole thing.
This made me think about the compilation of a life, how some of the strands (people) in our rope are stories that we invite in, and others are strangers who force or find their way in.
What was the life of Jesus like? What sort of strands or stories or people did he intentionally wrap around himself? What sort of rope did he form? Is my rope like his, full of broken strands and frayed strands and weak strands, held together through relationship and community? Or do I protect my sterile rope of a life and only allow myself to become intertwined with other “perfect” threads?
That seems a silly, futile way to spend a life.