Thursday, December 20, 2007

Scheherazade and the Image of God

I’m thinking a lot about the stories we tell and the mistakes we make about those stories. I don’t think most people really appreciate the profound working out of the words that casually escape from our lips. I know I don’t.

Scheherazade was a character who spun the tales of one thousand and one nights to save her life. The story goes that the king would sleep with a different woman each night and then have her beheaded in the morning. But clever Scheherazade held him captive with the words of her stories. Each morning as the dawn listened in for the sound of Scheherazade’s voice, it found her still breathing out her stay of execution. Eventually the king was transformed by the stories and he came to love Scheherazade. There is something important in this story about stories. It reminds me of God, and the way his words are not just words. They create.

In the beginning, God spoke the heavens and earth into existence. His creative work is framed in the Bible as a result of his breath and his words. He saved the work of forming us last and declared that we were very good. We are very good because he says so. Like a divine Scheherazade, he spun a tale of goodness and love. And in this divine story he declares that we are not only good, but that we are made in his image. We are like him somehow, and I wonder if it’s not in this creative breathing and speaking.

What would it mean for me to take seriously the stories I am telling every day? What would it mean for me to find the words that will save my life and the lives of the people around me? What would it mean for me to begin to declare goodness all around me just because I say so? It may be that we are all creating a world in our own image every day that we live. We can speak a toxic poison or a loving balm. Which of these stories have I been telling?


  1. very cool stuff.
    we all tell stories through writing as well as speaking--you especially.
    keep writing...I'm listening!

  2. Thanks Jen. I love the story you've been telling. I'm listening too.

  3. I like it. I like it a lot.
    Makes me feel like there is purpose in everything we do and say.
    In our jobs, in our relationships, in the simple passing of strangers in the grocery isle.
    It all matters. Deeply.

    Thanks hon.

    More please . . .

  4. Merry Christmas, Terri. I've been taking the week off of writing but loved the post... hope to write more on it later. Have a great one!

  5. Thanks Honey (Dave, not Tom). You've always been my role model in this area. The stories you speak into my life have healed me in so many ways over the years.

    Tom: I think most people in the blogosphere are pretty quiet right now. I imagine everyone having a really restful and blessed time with family and friends. Bless you my friend.

  6. Merry Christmas, Terri! I'm so glad you found my blog and commented so that I could come over here and find you and yours! I'm looking forward to learning more about you . . . congrats on this new courageous step into the blogosphere! And yes, you will become addicted. It will become an integral and critical part of your life and your "being" in the world. :)

    Blessings to you!

  7. Beautiful words, Terri. I love how you weave in the very real and everyday concept of story into how God created and formed us. Ours are playing out realtime and maybe we can't see where we're headed or maybe we find ourselves lost or misled in the telling.

    Thanks for visiting my little space and leaving your footprint there. I'll be back to see what unfolds. :o)

    Merry Christmas to you!!

  8. It's funny. I recently rewrote a monologue for our church drama team, changing it from a speech to a personal story. Same points, different context. It was a hit.

    As Dave said (and I've been saying too often during family gatherings), "More please!"

    Merry Christmas!

  9. Christianne: oh i'm way past addicted! did you know that the reinforcement schedule for checking blogs is exactly the same as the reinforcement schedule for slot machines? (intermittent reinforcement) i'm toast!

    Kirsten: thanks for finding me too. it's weird but i feel really close to you and a lot of the others through blogs. it's like i've stumbled on this lovely group of virtual friends.

    Sharp: hey, you found me! glad you liked the post. bless you brother. and i have another blog in the "already-not yet" stage.

  10. Very deep Terri and very true. I love "what if's" and think about them often. What if one kind word we say today, makes the difference between a person trying one more time or giving up and ending it all. What if you have the ability to make a difference in someone's life by what you say...You do. Keep writing I will keep reading.

    I found your blog through some of my great blog friends. Oh and maybe God led me here too. Who knows. :)

  11. who knows indeed. nice to make your acquaintance greg!

  12. Terri - it's so true!! I'm endlessly amazed at how I feel so close to people I only know through blogging. It becomes it's own little community. Glad you've jumped on board!!

  13. I hadn't heard of the story of Scheherazade before... very insightful.

    "What would it mean for me to find the words that will save my life and the lives of the people around me?"

    Big question... my words often miss the mark and sometimes oppress. I've heard the opening of John's Gospel interpreted as ... "in the beginning was the deed." I think that hits the mark; word = deed.

    The weight of the word then rests on the trustworthiness of the speaker. So I would add to your question above, "How can I be trustworthy enough for my words to become deeds?"

    I'm rambling and trying to feel my way around this topic... too much eggnog. Cheers

  14. Really interesting Tom. I never heard that translation before but it makes a lot of sense to me. Words and deeds are two sides to the same coin. They are elements we use to tell our stories. Thanks for the thoughtful interaction with this post.

  15. Ha-ha, Terri -- that line about slot-machine-like intermittent reinforcement is hilarious and so true! :)