In the movie Shadowlands, C. S. Lewis asks a young student why he reads so many books. He answers, “To find out that I’m not alone.” Stories trace the joys, struggles, sorrows, and triumphs common to people in every age and place. As scientists tell us, each human has 99% of the same DNA as every other human. But a single story about human life is always only partially true. There’s that little 1% of difference and the wildly varied circumstances of our lives—geography, history, culture, personal experience—all leaving their traces on our bodies and spirits. So, when we tell our stories, we also trace and claim differences among us, and when we read those stories, we learn not only that we’re alike and not alone, but also that we’re different in surprising, sometimes shocking ways. But rather than yearning for the comfort of a homogeneous country or world, stories can lead us to acknowledge and celebrate these hints of God’s boundless creative love.
By Mara Faulkner, OSB