This image landed in my Facebook feed, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
I came up with my own story about the road. In my tale, the planner had originally thought to remove the tree to keep the road straight (and somewhat safer), but the road crew, after taking a break under its branches didn’t have the heart to bulldoze it, and raised the funds to re-route the road around the tree.
Heartwarming, right? A great illustration of priorities and values and… fake.
That’s right. This is a road in Arizona (Route 160 for those with a need to know) that has been photoshopped by a Korean advertising agency for a now defunct non-profit. There are entire threads on the internet debunking this picture.
I’ll confess that when I discovered my version of the story wasn’t remotely true, I became a bit deflated, but then realized that even if the story itself wasn’t true (I made it up!) the truth was that sometimes beautiful things happened because good people stepped forward to make it so.
Isn’t this like the stories we tell ourselves about our past? Stories filled with truth about our history that speak our values… that are either exaggerated or downright false (and yet, somehow on point?). In one church there was a story about a woman who never missed a Sunday and knew everyone’s name. In another church I learned that each of the founding members mortgaged their own homes to finance the building of the church. These stories speak of welcoming and commitment that proceeded our own…. and even when a little digging shows that no one can agree on the name of the greeter or only three people mortgaged their homes, the truth remains the same.
We’ve begun to weave our stories of the pandemic – not just how we responded, but who we were during this time apart. As we look toward the weeks and months to come, we’re also beginning to shape the stories about what is next. We’re telling stories about those who haven’t returned without asking them if they are willing to share their story… we’re telling tales about those who continue to wear masks as well as those who don’t.
What is true and what is truth? There’s only one way to know… ask.
The truth we hear may challenge our own perceptions of our collective story. We may hear things that are hard to hear. We may find ourselves defending our own understanding of the truth. We may find that we need to change in ways that are uncomfortable.
We may find we need to change direction and reroute the road we’re on….
The road ahead is unknown. What is known is that we don’t make this trip alone.