Heavy With Story

Heavy With Story

Have you ever been heavy with a story? Of course you have. You know, when fiction wraps itself around you and you can’t shake it off as you go about your day? When a character is as alive with you as the person sitting with you at the dinner table? When a reality jumping off the pages is way bigger than the story and just can’t be shelved any way you think about it?

I’ve been heavy with story this week. I finished The Language of Flowers (http://www NULL.amazon NULL.com/Language-Flowers-Novel-Vanessa-Diffenbaugh/dp/034552554X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1330625939&sr=1-1) by Vanessa Diffenbaugh a couple days ago and it’s still weighing on me like a cloak several sizes too big. Victoria lived in foster homes for her entire childhood.  We meet her when she’s just turned 18, and as her story of independence unfolds we also learn about her last decade and why she can’t love or trust anyone, even herself.

The book is exquisite at many levels. It was the title and the flower premise that drew me in. Victoria has learned from one foster parent the Victorian meanings of flowers. Honeysuckle, devotion. Rosemary, remembrance. Mistletoe, I surmount all obstacles. Thistle, misanthropy. She becomes a florist and arranges blooms that reach into the lives of her customers. Flowers help to give her a voice in her relationships, as well. In a flower market she meets a man connected to her past and begins the fragile process of letting someone into her closed world.

But the story isn’t flowery in a cut and dried sort of way. Just about anything that can go wrong eventually does go wrong, and often horrifyingly so. I wanted to believe the author took her storyline to some unrealistic lengths. But, I had to reckon with my own yen for a rosy tale. Life is that hard for more children, and their grown selves, than I can imagine. My goodness, I was well loved and firmly planted in a home and still had plenty of my own inner struggles!

I wondered throughout the book about the author. Is she a follower of Christ? If so, why didn’t she infuse hope and redemption through Jesus into the novel? God wasn’t mentioned. Once, Victoria wishes she knew how to pray. That’s it.

Then, in the heavy, I wondered, maybe that’s the point. The story holds us and doesn’t let us go. I’ve been reading the book during Lent, and really, isn’t that the same point of this stretch before Easter? To be a time where we live heavy with the story? Focused in an unshakeable way on the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus?

His is no rosy tale either, and yet, without sitting with the story, without looking at the the dark truth of who I was without him, of what happened to him for my sake and what continues to happen in this sin-washed world, can we really take hold of Easter?

Then, when we’ve taken hold for ourselves, maybe we can let God move us to help someone else take hold of this same resurrecting God. Maybe, just maybe, it would even be a child without a home who hasn’t learned how to pray.

Note: Vanessa Diffenbaugh has begun the Camellia Network (http://www NULL.camellianetwork NULL.org/), a nationwide movement to support youth transitioning from foster care.

What story has weighed on you recently?

[Thank you to solent66/Flickr for the use of your photo!]

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