Just a storyteller

David Epps's picture

A friend was telling me that, not long ago, he was in a group undergoing training at a local hospital. The members of the group were instructed to introduce themselves and share some personal information, including where they attended church.

My friend said that he attended Christ the King.

A lady in the group said, “Oh, I know that church. The pastor is David Epps. He’s the guy who writes articles about himself in the paper.”

My friend shared this with me, getting a good laugh in the process. I wasn’t offended or insulted. I was intrigued.

Seventeen and a half years ago, when I was asked to submit a weekly column to the newspaper, it was decided that the column would be an “opinion” piece. My articles aren’t primarily religious, although some do lean that way.

Sometimes I go on what my secretary and my wife call a “rant,” especially when I am agitated or passionate about something. I don’t really do a teaching or a sermon. I do share opinions.

But, to be fair, I guess what I wind up doing most of the time is telling stories. I am just a storyteller. The stories have a point and, hopefully, some wisdom, opinion, guidance, advice, or humor emerges — but I generally just tell a story.

After some reflection, I have concluded that the lady is mostly right. I tell stories about the experiences, people, lessons, and memories that were part of my life. I share what I know best and that which I know best is about me or mine or those I know.

My son, James, is a stand-up comic in Albuquerque, N.M. When I visited last year, I went to hear his routine. I was a bit nervous because I know that the best comics work their life experiences and family members into the act. I was prepared to be the butt of a great many jokes. Bill Cosby, after all, made a great living by sharing funny stories.

Maybe it’s because I was there that James used ... um ... discretion. But if he doesn’t, that’s okay by me. It’s his story to tell.

In fact, I told my wife recently that I should make a pitch to the TV people that our family be a reality show. She was not amused.

I said, “But it would be funny — we are just as dysfunctional as all those other people in reality shows.”

She was still not amused.

“And we would get rich!” I added, to sweeten the deal.

“It would not be worth the embarrassment and humiliation,” she firmly declared.

“But it would be such a great story!” But the discussion was over. Some stories will never be told — not on television anyway.

Anyway, I plead guilty to the charge of writing about myself (and my family and people I know), although, until my friend shared the lady’s comments with me, I never looked at it quite that way.

Maybe because I enjoy stories and learning about the lives of people, I assume others do, too. Some of my fondest childhood memories are those of my grandfather recounting tales of his past as we fished on the banks of the Holston River. Some of my greatest regrets are that I never heard the stories of the childhood years of my father and mother.

Anyway, as Popeye often said, “I yam what I yam.” In my articles and often in my sermons, I take on the role of storyteller. Besides, I can only do so many rants.

And, pretty soon, people get tired of hearing rants and simply quit listening. And, anyway, rants leave me exhausted and depressed.

I have written somewhere in the neighborhood of 912 columns for the newspaper. Someone asked recently, “How do you do that week after week?”

It’s simple — there are always stories to tell. Hopefully, some of them are even worth reading.

[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at frepps@ctkcec.org.]

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