It’s a time of stories.
Through the rest of the year time flies. Essentially, routine and habit take us through our days, but at Christmas, if we are lucky, we get some time out and a chance to suspend disbelief. Hope and freedom for all!?
Before Christmas, we had a treat at Leicester’s Haymarket Theatre where the cast and crew of Sandi Toksvig’s ‘Treasure Island’ took us on an affirming trip “Raising our hopes”. They reminded us that “you can be anything”, #greatshow. It’s amazing where you can travel with a good story, a hearty chorus, some great characters and some dramatic lighting and effect.
Experiencing theater, character, drama and tragedy is an affecting opportunity to think beyond ourselves. If we choose to accept it, we can be reminded of visceral truths and thoughtful insights that might help us deal with some of the stuff life throws around. For me, song, music, story and the imagination are one of humanity’s only hopes.
Last January we were entranced by The Greatest Showman. “’cause every night I lie in bed, The brightest colours fill my head… A million dreams are keeping me awake”, “But I won’t let them break me down to dust… For we are glorious”
As I said last year, from Dickens to Mariani, Moana to Skywalker, Paddington Bear to P.T.Barnum, we can wonder into films, stories, theatre and paperback novels.
I have just tiptoed through Simon Parke’s ‘The Secret Testament of Julian’ – a contemporary reflection of fourteenth-century life. Simon has a way of playing with age-old truths in an entertaining personal way. Towards the other end of the spectrum, I have just received the 18th book in Scott Mariani’s Ben Hope extravaganza. The Ben Hope adventures are light-hearted escapism, slugs and spice, literary pop-snacks without too much indigestion. Chapter one tonight.
It’s amazing where you can travel with a good story, and some great characters. The strength of a compelling hopeful loving narrative can be strong and resurrecting real force for change, healing and hope. The power of Good is an almighty thing that we can indeed celebrate. The power of Good is arguably the only hope the world has. For some people, the story is wrapped around a personal conviction. The Mastery and Lordship of freedom and righteousness are not something I can personally understand. But some people move mountains with it.
Stories: We can, of course, see the value in honesty, sharing, caring. We can see the value in putting others first. We can see the value in turning away from unhelpful things, being aware of distractions from what is good, honest and wholesome. We can see the value in compassion for all in need; the poor, the despised, the outcasts. We might see the possibility of healings through faith, forgiveness and sincerity. We can see the value of stories.
Dare I say, “tales as old as time”? It’s good to celebrate stories that sing hope and allow us to be free. I have asked before, what would the world be without bread and circus? Perhaps the bread we crave might sometimes need a sugar coating to help us swallow disbelief.
This message might self-destruct in due course.