Last night I got a gift on my way to bed. My father sent me a rough draft of the piece he wrote for the lent meditation on Wednesday. I wasn't expecting him to send it to me in advance but after reading it, I'm glad he did. Each week the two of us will share public readings of essays about a particular place, person, or episode from our common past. We will tell the story in our own words and from our own perspective. The only thing we share is that we are both witnesses. I'm not sure what will come of this experimental form of storytelling but I trust that it will be good. Like many immigrants who learned English as a second language, he writes beautifully. The public reading will be enhanced by a thick Ethiopian accent that manages to make the trite seem important, and the important seem wise, and the wise seem like God is talking to you.
Like our names - my middle name is my father's first name - our stories can't be told apart from each other. Yet, they are not identical. In the sublime occasions our memories filed away as insignificant for so long, the richness of our bond and its capacity to transform us now is realized.
Writing essays about yourself is autobiographical. Inviting people to pay $7 for lunch while you read them out loud is slightly narcissistic. The stories are resurrected from our dusty archives. Why would we think they might interest you? They will because the uniqueness of the details cannot overwhelm the universal truth that stands behind them. Trust me, our story is bizarre. But when retold, it is compelled forward by the hope inherent to the resurrection - what appeared to be lost, small, forgotten, poor, and confined to the past is redeemed and now has the propensity to offer life in the present. Can you recognize your story in that?