This semester at uni I'm studying Old Testament Narratives. I've always had a head for literature, reading, writing, for story; and there's something about that word narrative that really captivates me. Check out this definition of narrative, taken from the Oxford dictionary:
"Your life is a story" is my throw away vocation/life-journey line; but actually there's something profound about this definition.
- A narrative is an "account of connected events; a story..." That seems pretty straightforward and obvious, but substitute "narrative" with words like "life", "vocation" or "faith-journey". Sometimes the connections between events in our lives aren't that obvious, it might take some prayer, counselling, mentoring or time to join the dots. Establishing those connections and the story that they tell will give flesh to your understanding of your life and your place in the world and the Church.
- Narrative is "the narrated part" of a story. A story has an implied narrator. The big question is who is your narrator? If the answer is God, how do you follow the story he sets out before you? How do you respond to the story line, the plot and the other characters? Ultimately the overarching plot belongs to the Narrator, are we listening and aware to the story God is telling?
- Narrative is the "art of telling stories." Your story and the way it becomes enveloped into the greater story of Creation isn't meant to be kept to yourself. Your life has been impacted by stories artfully lived, whether by your parents, a friend, a teacher or a random by-passer. How do we "artfully live our stories"?
- Narrative involves reflecting or conforming "to an overarching set of aims and values." Reflect and conform, listen and respond, discern and decide: the relationship between us and our God is the call that God places on our lives. That call at it's most basic (yet grand) level is to know, love and proclaim God. As we live that storyline the plot escalates as we discover the state of life God calls us to (i.e. ordained, single, married or consecrated life). As we journey through the chapters in our lives we discover vocations within our vocation (e.g. to a ministry, service or an occupation).
We're connected to something much bigger, broader, further and deeper than just our own plot. When we plot our own lives to become part of the greater story of the whole of Creation, not only will meaning seep off of the pages of our own life, but it will also seep into the stories of those around us. "Once upon a time" and "happily ever after" might be corny and cheesy, so let's focus instead on story lines like "for God so loved the world", "He came so we might have life to the full" and "thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."