Mira voce: storyteller

This post is part of a series of reflections during Lent. This year for Lent I’m trying to create more than copy once a week, inspired by the Portuguese phrase mira voce, prominently featured in my jam “Mira,” by Melody Gardot.

This week’s mira voce moment came to me in a Starbucks drive-thru near our St. Paul apartment. I had planned on working from home yesterday, but since family is in town much of this week, I figured this was one of my only shots at being physically present at work. I knew after some morning commitments I would need a little boost, so I got Starbucks before I went to work for the afternoon.

Cinnemon Dolce Latte (decaf, of course). Yes, I jumped over summer straight to fall, but honestly. The fall is magical. This drink smells like fall, books, falling orange leaves, smiles, falling in love, welcome back, welcome home, brick.

Before I dropped Timothy off at home, he switched on the TED Radio Hour podcast, with this week’s theme of “Reframing the Story.” Fifty minutes well spent. The show jumped around to a highlight a few different previous TED speakers – the author of “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” a Pixar filmmaker, a book cover designer, and a Nigerian novelist. I just loved how they had their own unique ways of telling us listeners that stories matter – our complex, ugly, beautiful, lifelong, surprising stories matter.

So Timothy and I budget $10 per two weeks for my coffee habit. So I received my drink in the drive-thru and was waiting for the nice Starbucks barista to refill my card when it hit me.

We are all storytellers. Not just these four TED speakers. We are all storytellers.

I’m still hot on my heals from last week’s post about an experience where I felt like my church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) only valued me because of my age, not for my unique strengths, desire to serve my neighbors, passions and dreams to contribute to the world.

In this TED episode, novelist Chimamanda Adichie talked about the danger of the single story. She’s grew up in a middle-class home in Nigeria and shares a story of her family’s domestic help, a “house boy,” who lived in poverty outside the city with his family. One day her family visited the boy’s home. She saw a beautiful hand-woven basket his brother had made. She had only heard of this family’s poverty, so it was out of the question to think that they had any other identity (artists). The danger of the single story is that it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Do we do this to people at church? Do we quickly assess an individual and assign a ministry or group or event based on just one element – one story – of them? You look like a teenager… Oh, we have confirmation for them! You look like an older person… Oh, we have a small group for them!

I’m not saying that this is the case for every church. But it’s a temptation that I think every church faces. We must split you up by, you name it, age, interest, political-leaning. But if I’m being honest, I see it mostly by age.  Just last month I was asked to be on a team because I was young. I am more than a young person:

I am a theologian (just like you).

I am a steward.

I am confused by Jesus and inspired by Jesus.

I am in service to my neighbor.

I am in constant wanderlust.

I am secretly plotting to take over the world with love, puppies and sparkling heart confetti.

I am a lifelong Seattle Mariners fan. I remember the first time I walked into the Kingdome with my dad.

I am someone’s other half and I couldn’t be prouder.

I am a recipient of a master’s degree.

I am a west coaster at heart. I dream of living three blocks from the beach in a home decorated with my Pinterest boards.

I say all these statements to show that each of us are complex human beings. None of us have a single story. We’re made up of past and present experiences, “ah-ha!” moments, relationships, families, lingering questions. We all have a very big story to tell.

What’s your story?

Stay tuned for next week’s closing post of this series!

This blog has no ownership or rights to music by Melody Gardot or Verve Music Group.