A few years back I said this:
I think I want to give up communication for Lent this year. I think I want to stop trying to send messages, to cover all the channels. I think I’m tired of making sure all the bases are covered. I’m weary of needing more communication.
Or maybe what I means is that I want to give up informing.
Instead, I think I want to focus on understanding.
Here’s what I mean: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” is delightful. “Joseph” makes people laugh, makes me laugh. “Joseph” makes people sing. “Joseph” makes me sing.
But it’s too happy, isn’t it? It wasn’t like that in the middle of the desert, after all. Tossed into a pit, afraid for his life, Joseph wouldn’t have scared himself with a snake sock puppet, right? (That’s how a bit of that scene was played at the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre version of “Joseph” four years ago).
Nope. It wasn’t cheery in the desert.
But when Joseph and his brothers were sitting safe in Egypt, telling the stories for the grandkids, I can see the laughter, the musical variety, the big production. Not because it was made up, but because they had some perspective, because they knew how that part of the story turned out.
That’s why I try to tell stories the way I do, especially stories from the Bible. I assume that they are about real people who talked and laughed and argued. I assume that bits were left out. I assume that the stories are there to tell.
And I want to tell stories so well that you think, “I wish there was more.” And then I can say, “There is.”
When Paul was saying goodbye to some friends he’d lived with for three years, he said that he’d taught them everything he knew that would be helpful to them, and that he’d been in public and had gone from house to house. And they wept in the parting.
That’s not about communication, about optimal information sharing. That’s about helping people understand.