“Dad, what’s going on?” asked my seven-year-old son.
We were out for a walk and had just witnessed a group of ladies pass us on the other side of the street, all wearing surgical masks of a variety of sizes and colors.
I was faced with how to answer him and keep a smidge of innocence in his mind.
“Um, a lot of people are sick,” I mumbled. “And the mask helps them stay healthy.”
“Oh,” he said, and we kept walking.
I took a deep breath, knowing this wouldn’t be the last time he asked me this question, but not knowing how I would answer him about the changes we face right now.
How do we communicate to our children the crisis we face physically, economically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually?
I’ve decided to turn to a tried and true ancient method: I will use stories to help him understand the pain and trouble and fear that has been unleashed on us.
Rollo May was a famous psychologist in the 1960s through the 1990s. He wrote a lot of books, one of the most important, but possibly least known, is a Cry for Myth. In it, he lays out the need for stories or “myths” as he describes them, for people to stay mentally healthy and emotional sound. “Myth is a way of making sense in a senseless world…are narrative patterns that give significance to our existence” (May, p. 15, 1991). He discovered what brilliant people like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Aristotle, Aesop, Virgil, and Homer have long known about stories or myths. Stories give us a way to understand why we are facing trouble.
They help us see what we can do with the chaos.
They give us a window into how we can overcome troubling times.
Stories allow us to see people face overwhelming odds and winning the battle in the end.
Stories remind us that hard times do not last forever. There is hope at the end of this storm—a rainbow if you will.
Stories can give us the courage to face whatever comes our way.
I plan to use fairy tales, historical stories, novels, short stories, poetry, and more to help him process and face what is here and what will come in the future—for 2020 and beyond.