Telescoping Hope: The Role of Stories
A story is a telescope, bringing the distance within arm’s reach.
So often, the lives we lead seem long, perhaps uneventful, twisting and turning from one instance to another, usually before we have time to gain experience. And when the sifting dust of time settles on our gears, and the bright colors and scents of life seem to dull, a panacea glimmers in the pages of our memories.
Stories are more than chronicles. They are more than just adventures, or captured creativity. A true story telescopes a life, like a photographer improving a photograph. The artist knows how to saturate and brighten, darkening the shadows to throw the light into sharp relief.
An astronaut flying through a star system spends innumerable hours from darkness to darkness, with distant stars coming and then flashing by. It would seem an endless stream of baubles. But if he could pull away, the stars would blend together, the colors swirl like paint, and finally meld into the magical smile of a galaxy.
If we could pull away from the day-after-day of our lives, and look back and see how the days run together like water, and the joys jump out like highlights, and the sadnesses seep together like shadows, we can start to see definition, direction, perhaps destiny.
No magic mirror affords this for our lives. But we can look at the lives of others. And this is what a story does. For a while, we change from a microscope to a telescope, and see the whirling sandstorm of a life channeled into a few hours of narration, like a distillation of countless grapes into a single bottle of refined wine.
Rejuvenation. Uplifting the soul. A fresh sense of life, often, a realigning of priorities. Good stories draw the lines clearer again, increase the contrasts to throw universal truths back into sharp relief.
Sadly, too many stories today either muddle around in the gray, or invert the colors, leaving us temporarily thrilled. But the thrill fades, and we remain unchanged, and just as disappointed. Our storytellers haven’t told us what we need to hear.
Hope exists, even if not yet. Change can happen, if the right things are done. And when nothing at all is possible, what we do with our hearts and minds matters more than our hands and mouths.
Good stories bring back our humanity, reminding us of the simple truths that firm up the world like foundations. Stories remind us that they are still there.
It is good to be human. Authentic freedom lies in truth and love. Life never ends. We all want a little peace and happiness.
And when we lose the plot, stories exist to remind us of the ending.
By Dominic de Souza
(Read more of the works of Dominic de Souza at his website, Catholic Author)