Matt and I met six years ago today. I wrote the story of our meeting on this anniversary last year, so I won't repeat all the details. Matt and I were reminiscing last night about the story of our meeting--how we met the day I moved to Nashville, how we met playing People Bingo at orientation, how he saw me across the room, and how I played stand-off-ish because I could tell he was interested.
We often reflect on the stories of our origin, telling each other the stories we already know so well. About our first date at the Opryland Hotel, how we had to wait for a table and how it was sitting on that bench, waiting and talking, that we learned how much we had in common. We talk about how we stopped dating for a time, how I briefly dated someone else in that time, and how we became best friends and fell in love during that time apart. We especially love the part in the story when Matt and I and the guy I was dating were all hanging out at another couple's house. Off in a back hallway by the bathroom, Matt lamented to our hostess how much he cared for me, and how he feared he'd lost me forever. She told him that it would all work out, and that we would one day tell our grandchildren the story of how we got back together. Little did they realize, I was in the bathroom by which they were talking, and heard everything. That just makes the story we'll tell our grandchildren even better.
We'll tell Kate the story of her birth--how it was 65 degrees in January on her due date but how she waited until it snowed! I even tell Charlotte (yes, the cat) the story of how she and I "fell in love," how one kitty in the kennel was too shy, and another too wild, but then I saw her and she cautiously came down from her perch and we bonded for life.
Yesterday, Matt began a sermon series called "Living the Story," in which he'll preach on the key episodes in the biblical narrative. He began, of course, "In the Beginning," and demonstrated the way in which humanity's stories of origin were perpetuated through the centuries.
Q: Father, how did we get here?
A: Well, my son, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...
Q: Father, why do we marry?
A: Well, my son, God said it was not good for man to be alone...
Q: Father, why is there pain and suffering?
A: Well, my son, there was this one tree...
These stories orient us to life and the world. Even when we've heard them a thousand times, even when we all know the story, we tell these stories to remind us who we are and what is important. That is why we pass them on.
"Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise..." (Deuteronomy 6:7)
For Matt and I, our stories of origin remind us of the connection that first brought us together and the friendship that kept us together. For Israel and for all people of faith today, our stories of origin remind us of the great big God that started it all and has interacted with people throughout the millenia. Stories of origin ground us with the essential truths of our existence and our relationships to God and one another. They provide the root when the branches are blowing wildly in the breeze.