Stories Bring Peace
I don’t have perfect children. They fight and bicker and pick at each other so that at times it makes my heart sore (of course they did not get any of that behavior from me, are you kidding?). But I have noticed that there is one activity that almost always brings them peace and that is hearing a story.
Stories take the focus off of us and our problems, and put the focus on the characters and their problems. More than that, they help us see solutions to those problems which invariably encourage and inspire us when we go back to our own.
They also bring us together. They quiet our clamorous complaints and catch us up in a shared vision, dissolving whatever differences might reside in the individual partakers of the tale and whisking them off into the place where everyone is merely a silent observer of the unfolding drama.
Stories, stories, everywhere
Stories come in many forms. Sometimes (especially with my girls) it’s a shared story that brings peace. These are usually kid-only affairs where sisters and friends sit on the bed or the floor chattering away about some dramatic tale they are making up together. If an adult enters the room, the story immediately stops and embarrassed looks are passed around the room. I find this sad as I would love to join in with them, but apparently there are some stories that simply are not appropriate for adult ears to hear.
Sometimes, it’s a story one of the children has read or even seen in a movie that the rest of us haven’t seen and we will all sit and listen (often around the dinner table) to its retelling.
They take the focus off of us and our problems, and put the focus on the characters and their problems.
Other times (not so much now that my kids are older) it’s the reading aloud of some savory tome before bed time or on the living room sofa. One fond memory I have of this sort was sitting around a fire in a cabin we’d rented in the mountains and reading so much and for so long that my throat started to get soar, but still the children moaned for me not to stop.
Not a care in the world
Of course, there are solo stories as well. I suppose most stories these days are of that sort. You know, snuggled up in bed or in your favorite, cushy chair, or amidst the sacred hush of a library with something papery and wondrous. Stories absorbed in such fashion bring the peace of silence and freedom from the world’s bustle and blare. They bring the blessed slowing down that we all need so much more of than we ever allow ourselves to receive. Even in the midst of a crowded bus or a packed train station this untroubled quiet is only a page turn away.
Reading stills the soul. It quiets the mind. Even with pulse pounding page turners, there is peace from real danger when you read. Try reading on the beach during a hurricane or while evacuating from a fire. It doesn’t really work, you see. In that sense, reading is the ultimate privilege. Like a lexical life preserver, reading a book is the great all clear signal that says, “The world is safe again. Everything’s okay.” You have come to the end of the tyrannically urgent succession of events. Now enjoy this moment. Stop and read.
Stories bring peace in so many ways.
So whether you are reading aloud to your children, recounting the juiciest bits from the latest novel to a friend on a hike, or sipping tea by the fire with your latest find from the library, enjoy the peace. Enjoy the quiet. Enjoy the blessed rest which only stories can bring.