“Mom, can you tell me the story of Monsters, Inc?”
Crap. It’s not that I don’t enjoy telling my son stories. I do. But the middle part of Monsters, Inc confuses me. It’s the part where I normally get up to go through mail or start dinner or talk to my mother, so I just don’t know it as well. And now, we’ve reached a developmental milestone that includes getting corrected when you get the story wrong. (For instance, do not try to tell my child that King Darius threw Daniel in the lions’ den… it was his soldiers.) So, no offense to Pixar, but this is not my favorite to retell.
In general, though, it’s been really fun to see Isaac get into stories. It’s hard to think back to the days just a couple of years ago when I would feel like an idiot sitting with my kid reading books with one word per page that were over his head. Now he can’t get enough. Cars, the Incredibles, Looney Tunes and Veggie Tales, “hero” Bible stories, and even family stories are fascinating for him. We spent many dinners in a row recounting the time Daddy broke his arm or “did lots of things” around his neighborhood growing up. And he doesn’t just like to hear them. We have to “play” them. In a very tangible way, running around fighting bad guys or blowing out his tires, he lives out the stories he loves. (Currently, we are calling our child “Dash”. Dash, of the Incredibles, is almost as fast as Lightning McQueen. Or is he faster? A preschool dilema.)
As adults, we don’t just get tired of the cartoon of the week (or month, or year) from reading or watching them ad nauseum with our kids. We often get tired of our own favorite stories. How sad for us. We roll our eyes at that story being told again at the dinner party, or skip past the reruns. And saddest of all is when we settle ourselves down into the pew and tune out because “we’ve heard this story before.”
I spent the better part of today reading the Gospel of Luke for my New Testament class, and then had the great blessing of being able to go to Stations of the Cross tonight. I’ll admit, after 6 hours of reading Luke with no end in sight, I am beginning to wonder if my Bible contains the “director’s cut”. But what hit me while reading these stories I’ve heard a hundred times before is this: I want to be re-reading these stories always. These are my stories! I am the impetuous James and John. I am the woman bent over who is straightened up by Jesus’ healing touch. I am the apostles nodding my head at Jesus’ warnings about his impending Passion, clueless and too scared to ask for clarification. I am Mary, cradling her son’s dead body in her arms. And, though perhaps I am not going to run around the house pretending to cast out demons, I am called to live these stories out in my real life. In the Scriptures, we encounter the real, living Jesus, and we need to be as engaged and challenged by him today as were those he spoke with before his death. And as the procession of the faithful did tonight in Church, I am called to pick up my cross and follow Christ.
One more thing. Isaac doesn’t play his stories because there is some rule in the Kid Book that says he has to. His action flows from his love of the characters, the plot, the adventure of it all. He puts his whole self into becomming Dash, or McQueen or Larry Boy, and plays his part with the utmost enthusiasm. This is what I want for Lent: to reach Easter Sunday knowing my stories better, and with a deeper enthusiasm for living them out.