LISTENING FOR THE STORIES

Everyone has a story.

One of the wonderful parts of growing older is discovering them. That moment while standing in the driveway chit chatting with a neighbor you just met that you realize in the midst the conversation that what you are hearing in somewhat disjointed fragments is a fascinating tale of tragedy, triumph and thanksgiving. All that is required to begin to unlock these treasures is LISTENING, ASKING, and HONORING.

“Annie” stopped with her little dog to introduce herself. She had noticed our Kentucky tags and was sharing with my husband when I walked up that she was born in Western Kentucky not so very far from where we live. With a tiny shake of her head and a downward glance she said, “I never thought I’d want to go back, because those were hard times.” She then went brightly on, inviting us to the church they attend down here, giving us the service times and some of the particulars about the church. But her earlier statement kept nettling me so I circled back to it.

How long had she lived in Kentucky and when did she leave?

What I received from that question was a gift. Anytime someone can face loss of parents, abandonment, separation from siblings, more than one temporary home, before landing with a foster mother who loved her deeply and 50 years after she took her in adopted her, you know you are in the presence of a person of substance, a true survivalist. Anyone who can lose a child and then go on to foster children herself demonstrates a mother’s heart. Anyone who can tell these bits of her life and Praise God for His provisions and love shares her faith that God does indeed have a plan for each of our lives.

imageThe woman we met was cheerful, talkative, and delightfully positive. AND NOT ONLY THAT But she is in the Guinness Book of World Records.

What I want is more time to talk to her, to flesh out her story, to get to know her. I want to see if she will let me share it in depth with others because it speaks to the kindness of others, to a time when the church, neighbors, relatives, teachers and even strangers stepped in to help the lost and abandoned. It speaks to the resilience of even children and offers hope.

Maybe “Annie” will allow me into her Story, but even if she doesn’t I plan to keep on LISTENING, ASKING and HONORING all the stories I hear.

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