(44.) Y is for Yarn

(44.) Y is for Yarn

(44.) Y is for Yarn

Remember that old fanciful term for a compelling story? In fact, a yarn is often synonymous with tales of high adventure, intrigue and the imagination. Tragically, schools have retreated from their ancient role as centers of storytelling, and education has consequently left the stage bare for the rationalists, utilitarians and bean counters.

For centuries, teachers have known that stories help students take the truth to heart. You can include rabbi Jesus in that group. “Again Jesus began to teach them by the lakeside. He taught them many things in parables… Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it. He would not speak to them except through parables.” (Mark 4:1-2, 33-34).

Why is that? Why were stories so central in education, in community life? For one thing, stories resonate with human nature. We naturally embrace storytelling because we intuitively know that our very lives are stories, extended dramatic narratives. Consider the makings of a good story: a good beginning with hopes of a happy ending; a crisis or problems to solve; twisting plot lines with lots of action and mystery; plans  to fight the opposing forces that are delaying the good destiny; the plotted journey onward as the character develops and makes choices for good or ill; lots of significant details that heighten the story line; a satisfying climax coming soon at some point in the future.

Such is life, all of it! Reality for each of us is an unfolding drama, not merely a biological process or propositional formula. So story tends to connect with us in unique ways, joining the universal to the particular, the abstract to the personal, the imaginative to tangible experience. And in that process, real lives are changed.

Eugene Peterson says that mere principles and guidelines and theological truths only serve as a “corset” and by themselves do not help in forming a “godly shape on our lives. That’s a mighty uncomfortable way to go about improving our spiritual condition. And it’s not the gospel way. Story is the gospel way.”¬†(Leap Over A Wall).

Christ-centered schools are wise to become a storytelling dynamo across the curriculum. After all, every living person, in fact all of creation, has a role in this cosmic drama, this universal tale told by the world’s Author. And every story is significant.