Many years ago, I awoke with a sentence turning over and over again in my mind.
“Truth is self-revealing; tell it in a thousand stories.”
In other words, become a great storyteller. Feed others stories in which they can find themselves, understand themselves, and in so doing, find and understand others around them along the way.
I saw a stock photo on a website today that had four people standing in a line, one behind the other. The first was an Asian girl, the second a macho Caucasian male, the third a blond Causcasian woman, and the fourth a black African-american male. Immediately, a story about each person unfolded in my mind, and the nature of the photograph. A story was told in a static image, and I immediately related that story to the world of relationships around me.
Many creative leaders of faith are fighting far too hard to tell a great story in a declarative way, leaving no room for questions as to what their content is all about. Sometimes, they fear error, or someone missing the point. Other times, they simply are clueless about how relationships and good stories work. Still other times, they are doing the best with what they have, trying to get the most bang for the buck, and working very hard not to cause anyone to stumble spiritually be provoking them with a word or visual. I mean, what will someone get from my story about a man who loves his daughter through painful times? What if I don’t mention one part of the Trinity in the story I’m telling musically, visually, or through print? It will be a waste of time and money right? “I must make it clear,” they tell themselves.
Truth is self-revealing. We are blind, in many ways, to things that are very true. For example, most of you believe I know what I’m talking about to be true to some degree in this moment. If you do, thanks, but the truth is that I am as much on a journey of understanding as you are. I’m writing out of my own wondering, rather than my own great resolve. When we allow the listener, viewer or reader to participate in unpacking the truth of a story, we excite their intuition for truth. The power of love, the dignity of courage, the spell of deception – all of these ideas are perceivable – and a great story can unearth them all.
The next time you have something you believe to be deeply truthful to tell, try enrobing it in a simple but passionate story. Tell that story visually, musically, physically or in written form. Then, allow the insights you hope will be found to reach out to the participant, whisper in their ear, and begin a game of hide and seek.
Truth discovered is infinitely more powerful within us over a long course that truth that has been told to us by another.
Truth is self-revealing; tell it in a thousand stories.