My dad knows Dr Seuss' 'The Lorax' off by heart. He read it to us so many times as kids that it will be imbeded into his memory forever. When he is too old to remember the names of his own children, I bet he will still remember the names of the Brown Barbaloots, the Swammi Swans, the Hummingfish, and the Lorax.
My father has also recited this story to me so many times that when he begins, 'At the far end of town where the grickle-grass grows...' I am able to repeat the words along with him. I am yet to learn the entire story by rote, and I rely on him to help me along, giving me prompts and clues and suggestions for expression.
In Prague I attended a strings performance held in the old museum, which is closed for construction until 2015. It opens in the evening though, especially for these concerts.
The museum sits at the top of Wenceslas Square and is hundreds of years old. We entered the atrium and filed up the stairs to the main landing. From there four stair cases, two on each side, lead to the balcony above. I imagine that the rooms which run off from the balcony are full of history and mystery, and will be nothing but beautiful when the renovations are complete.
The musicians stood on the landing and we sat on the stairs. Sitting on the steps diagonally across from me was a blond haired boy in a blue shirt, about 12 years old. He too knew some of these songs off by heart. He played the air violin note for note, stroke for stoke. I valued his contribution and his enthusiasm. I suspect that the quality of his performance was thanks to his familiarity with the song and his opportunity to imitate the master musicans below.
Imitation isn't mere copy-catting. When I recite 'The Lorax' I am telling the same story as my father, but I tell it slightly differently, with my own particular emphases and personal style. When violin boy plays Mozart he is animatedly and energetically playing the song that was written all those years ago, and he plays with the passion his personality brings.
In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul said 'imitate me as I imitate Christ.'
As I reflect on this I give thanks for those mentors and role models who have significantly impacted my life. I have been blessed with people who are familiar with the story of how God entered human history and showed us what true and perfect love is. They know the story well, they tell the story well. They sing it. They play it. And I have seen something of Christ at work in and through them.
I've been shown how to love the story. I've been shown how to live the story. I've heard the beauty of the song and I've been given space to play along.
Together, let us continue to imitate Christ and share in the life of his story