I give tours of the old church where I work.
This you knew.
Often, because of how time works, I arrive to the front doors before my tour groups. Maybe they’ll be another five minutes. Maybe ten. Maybe they won’t show up at all (it happens sometimes). I give them fifteen minutes of leeway.
In the interim, if we’re being honest, I often practice some dance steps in the foyer. Triple steps, the sliding lunges, the fancy, advanced movements that take intricate practice, quick steps from my heels to my toes. I sing the music I dance too, also (if we’re being honest).
Then they arrive, hesitantly at first, then in awe of the soaring ceilings, the colorful stained glass. They enter, and I wrangle them through a sixty minutes of history and faith and culture and story.
Depending on their age, I change up the interaction.
Depending on their questions, I tailor the information.
Depending on the state of my internal affairs, I switch between my favorite and less-favorite stories.
Eventually, after questions and stories exchanged (80% are “[This person I know] did [this sacrament] here.” Cool story, bro), traipsing about, taking pictures of a giant space on silly cell phones, they leave. I lock the doors.
Sometimes, if it has been a long day, and there have been many calls and much need and several tour groups, I sit in the back, on a pew, and think about everything.
It is work that I love, but it is hard work. It can also be draining. And discouraging. Sometimes if I wonder if the stories stick, if anyone cares, if my time could be invested better elsewhere.
Here’s the thing, though: I don’t know any better stories. There is no story I love more than this story–the story of human life and rejection but love and redemption.
Sometimes I sit on the back pew and remind myself: every story I have ever loved in my life has been an imitation of this story. And I love this story. I love it more than any other story, and that’s why I tell it, over and over again. Because it is the most beautiful story I’ve ever heard.
I love the movie “The Iron Giant” because it has elements of self-sacrifice. I love the story of “The Last Battle,” when good friends decide they will go so far as to die for what they treasure. I love the story of St. Maximilian Kolbe because it is a story of love, but it is only an imitation of the Stations of the Cross on the walls of a church built by people who loved this story, too.
I love this story.
So I tell it.
It is a good story, the best one I know, full of nobility and beauty and goodness and honor.
And I am lucky to be able to share it.