Posted by: Andrew G | April 2, 2010

Easter – Another Resurrection Story

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

(T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land)

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On Wednesday I talked a little bit about the word belief and some issues on how it is used. I want to explore the word story a little bit now.

I believe in story because it has the power to temporarily suspend disbelief. And just as important, story has the power to express meaning, regardless of factual or fictional events. Story makes you go deeper than fact. In some respects, truth is in the telling, not in the fact.

In an earlier post I noted how the New Atheists have a problem right now of “the most urgent need [for] a coherent popular philosophy that answers vital questions about how to live one’s life.” They are now in the middle of a search for story. And they are exploring the moral landscape.

This is an incredible moment of awareness. In metaphorical language, a priesthood is opening up a discussion with the world and with the public. They are saying, in essence, “Let’s find a coherent story.”

To illustrate the power of story, I submit for your inspection this piece of writing. I got it from Shannon through email, but unfortunately I can give credit to no one other than Anonymous. It seems fitting, in that Easter is at the beginning of the ‘cruellest month’ this year, and what better time for a story of hope and transcendence?

And  like all good stories, there may be more going on than what you think. There is another depth to dive into.

It is such a simple and eloquent gift given,  but I think it is important to share and celebrate it. The choice of words in the return letter, for me, illustrates the power of story, and action.

It is not known who replied, but there is a beautiful soul working in the dead letter office of the US postal service.

Our 14 year old dog, Abbey, died last month. The day after she died, my 4 year old daughter Meredith was crying and talking about how much she missed Abbey. She asked if we could write a letter to God so that when Abbey got to heaven, God would recognize her. I told her that I thought we could so she dictated these words:

Dear God,
Will you please take care of my d
og? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.
I hope you will play with her.. She likes to play with balls and to swim. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her You will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.
Love, Meredith

We put the letter in an envelope with a picture of Abbey and Meredith and addressed it to God/Heaven. We put our return address on it.. Then Meredith pasted several stamps on the front of the envelope because she said it would take lots of stamps to get the letter all the way to heaven. That afternoon she dropped it into the letter box at the post office. A few days later, she asked if God had gotten the letter yet. I told her that I thought He had.

Yesterday, there was a package wrapped in gold paper on our front porch addressed, ‘To Meredith’ in an unfamiliar hand.. Meredith opened it. Inside was a book by Mr. Rogers called, ‘When a Pet Dies..’ Taped to the inside front cover was the letter we had written to God in its opened envelope. On the opposite page was the picture of Abbey &Meredith and this note:

Dear Meredith,
Abbey arrived safely in heaven.
Having the picture was a big help. I recognized Abbey
right away. Abbey isn’t sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don’t need our bodies in heaven, I don’t have any pockets to keep your picture in, so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.


Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you.
I send my blessings every day. Remember that I love you very much.


By the way, I’m easy to find, I am wherever there is love.

Love,
God

The theme for April will be “Books and Their Stories”. I plan on reviewing four books that have helped me a little bit in my recent explorations. By no means are they ‘recent’ books but they are all loosely based on God, and the telling of the story of God. Even if I do not know God that well, he/she/it/they seem(s) to spark intriguing conversations. And so, this is an attempt at catching up to the extensive, ongoing conversation.

I do not plan on being particularly cruel, but I do hope to achieve something closer to critical. If anything, these reviews will be little more than attempts to peak over the shoulders of such giants. Here is the roster:

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God: A Biography by Jack Miles

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God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens

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The Faith Instinct by Nicholas Wade

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With or Without God by Gretta Vosper

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Responses

  1. I like that story.

    • Glad you liked it! Every time I look at it I think, “This is how we should treat each other!”

      Seriously, I would totally make some cookies for the postal worker if someone knew where to find him/her…


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