Every week we offer a prayerful reflection from a member of the Unbound community. This week our reflection is from Writer/Editor Jordan Kimbrell.
Growing up, I loved listening to my grandmother tell stories. When I was a kid she’d tell me fairy tales, and then we’d play dress up and act them out. She had a large, sturdy coffee table that made the perfect stage for my 5-year-old self.
Now that I’m older the stories have changed. Instead of fairy tales I’m hearing stories from her life. She reminisces about times with friends and family, both good and bad. I’ll admit to being short when some of the stories repeat. I’ve gone from the child-like, “Tell it again!” to the impatient adult, “Yes, I’ve heard this already.”
But just like when reading a book for the 10th time (Yes, I’m guilty of that, too!), it’s helpful to view oft-repeated stories not with impatience, but with the chance to glean something new. Maybe in hearing it again we’ll find new meaning, or perhaps the person telling the story has a new insight. Storytelling goes both ways: There is value for the listener and the teller.
When our elders share their stories with us, listening becomes more than just a sign of respect. It’s also an acknowledgment that this person has lived more, seen more and likely has wisdom we don’t yet have.
On a recent trip to Guatemala, I had the chance to meet a sponsored elder named Carlos. When he started telling a story about the city of Antigua’s history, even though I had already heard the story earlier that day, I didn’t stop him and say, “I’ve already heard this.”
Grandparents Day is Sept. 8. Let us celebrate it by really thinking about the stories our grandparents have told us. We might learn something if we do.
Father in heaven, thank you for giving us natural teachers in our grandparents, with their wealth of experience and hard-won wisdom. Give us patience in how we treat our elders, as we hope younger generations will one day have with us. Open our minds and hearts to new insights from the stories our grandparents and other elders in our lives tell. We ask these in your holy name. Amen.