The Navajo poet and writer Luci Tapahonso, author of “Blue Horses Rush In,” writes of stories that they are for her a way of looking. For her, stories often explain things, as well as offer an exploration of alternative ways of living. So it is with us. We too have favorite writers whose works have proven life-enhancing, making available themes, images and metaphors which, in turn, have illuminated and sharpened moments of discernment relative to who we are and what we are for.

The perceptions we glean from stories often enable an enriched inseeing. Somewhere I have read that it is a lifetime project, cultivating the five senses in order to distinguish ourselves from the buzzing, blooming confusion of the world, until we are able to say with confidence, “this is me.” Psychiatrist Robert Coles allowed that stories were renderings of life, both keeping us company and admonishing us, possibly pointing us in new directions, or giving us the courage to stay a given course.

Coles’ perceptiveness lends credence to the idea that the stories of our faith rightly discerned also may help in our seeing how God is present with us. From my youth up, I have been informed and guided by the facts and fictions of my biblical heritage. Apart from this literature, it would be impossible for me to interpret myself to anyone, even to myself. So it is with those whose faith-stories may be different than mine.

Some time ago, I read an editorial saying that today’s children and youth are being cut off from these value-forming narratives that have given moral direction to societies for centuries. The writer further allowed that so much of our social insanity seems to stem from this generation’s failure to pass on to their children and youth a way of looking that includes God and how it is that each person is related to a dimension of reality outside and beyond themselves.

Possibly you who read this live as I do in that evangelical world where God’s story and our stories have become inspirationally a melded reality. Our Christian writings have engaged our minds and spirits in ways not easily shrugged off. When, like prodigal sons and daughters we come to ourselves, as the father’s son of Jesus’ parable did, we want to come home to God. Faith-wise, we are persuaded that God is hidden and always present to us, his steadfast love upholding us. Unashamedly, we confess that this way of looking has an irrational slant.

Permeating these stories is a moral force pushing us to clarify to ourselves what it means to be here on this planet – the only personal space in the universe. How is it that we have these singular selves just once and no more? There may be no viable answers to our ponderings and yet thinking upon and around these writings, we find ourselves moving confidently from contemplation to our day-to-day living. So we, acting out of faith, though it may seem a little light, find that light sufficient to go ahead with, as Robert Frost allowed in his narrative poem, “A Masque of Reason”:

We don’t know where we are, or who we are.

We don’t know one another; don’t know You;

Don’t know what time it is. We don’t know, don’t we?

Who says we don’t? Who got up these misgivings?

Oh, we know well enough to go ahead with.

I mean we seem to know enough to act on.

Yes! We know well enough to go ahead with … to act on! Having staked our lives upon these ancient and hallowed writings, people of faith can make a life, sing songs, speak poems, love both God and neighbor, confessing themselves ever in need of God’s mercy while buoyed by the hope that we are cross-referenced to eternity, forever in God’s care! It’s our way of looking!

The Rev. Merle G. Steva is Minister of Visitation Emeritus at First Parish Church, Saco. He may be contacted at [email protected]