Laura Alary

Laura Alary

Writing stories that make us bigger on the inside

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Thoughts on Epiphany and Stories

January 6, 2021

“On their way home, the magi talked about the star. How it caught them by surprise, roaming freely around the world. How it scattered the gift of light far and wide. How it broke open a story about one people, and made it a story for all people.”

“The Magi Come Seeking” from Read, Wonder, Listen: Stories from the Bible for Young Readers by Laura Alary (Wood Lake Books, 2018)

As I was reading this version of the epiphany story today it struck me that its concluding words reflect something of my own vocation as a writer. The surprising arrival of the magi—people whose background and beliefs place them completely outside the biblical narrative—transforms a very particular story into a universal one.

As we all do, I grew up in a particular time and place, with a particular set of stories that helped shape my identity and create my worldview. Some of my books reflect that background very explicitly. Look! and Make Room and Breathe explore the ancient rhythms and patterns of the church year. Read, Wonder, Listen tells stories from the bible in new ways. But I write other kinds of books too. Victor’s Pink Pyjamas is a story about being yourself and liking what (or whom) you like. Jesse’s Surprise Gift is about generosity and the surprising benefits of not clinging to what you have. What Grew in Larry’s Garden is about mindfulness and friendship, problem-solving and nurturing community.

Although it may appear that I write for two different audiences, my own sense of things is more integrated: I write stories I believe are worth telling, and put them out into the world for anyone who wants to read them. Maybe Mira and the Big Story says it best: “Stories can make you bigger—not on the outside, of course, but on the inside. They can stretch your mind and heart. But a story can make you smaller if it takes up all the space in your mind and heart. When new people or new ideas come along there is no room for them. Whenever you hear a story you must ask yourself: What is this story doing to me? Is it making me bigger or smaller?”

I want to tell stories that make us all bigger on the inside.

Everyone is welcome. Happy Epiphany.

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