July 2024
Why We Tell Stories

One of the reasons we tell stories is that we long to see what lies on the other side of a closed threshold. The mystery is an invitation to meaning.

We tell stories for all sorts of reasons. And much has been written on it. Some say, rightly, that we are storied creatures, made to tell stories because we bear the image of a tale-telling God. Others say we tell stories to find meaning in life, to portray the depth of purpose we believe we can have. And there are still others who say we tell stories simply because we are enchanted by them, just as we were when we were children. We pick up the scent of mystery and journey, and we can't seem to turn back. We feel fated to follow the trail.

After working on and off for fifteen years, I've at last finished writing my first book of fiction, The White Door. And I believe I've come across another reason why we tell stories, hidden in that very title.

Opening Doors

The White Door is a story about what greatness can lie on the other side of a closed threshold. Standing before a door, we feel the soft and silent pulse of mystery. What will we find when we turn the handle and push? We don't know, at least not fully. And that mystery is an invitation to meaning.

It's hard to define "meaning." It's one of those words that sits at the bottom of human experience. When we try to explain it by feeling around for other words in the dark, our hands find they are already near the base of the well, the stone foundation of our beginning that allows no deeper penetration. But I believe meaning is a given and shared worth. I say "given" because worth is a gift of God, not a discovery or creation of man. And I say "shared" because that worth is never isolated to an individual. It is shared, at least, with God himself and with many other people. So, the concepts of gift and sharing are bound up with meaning.

And as it turns out, the gift and sharing of worth is exactly what we're after when we tell stories. That's one of the reasons why I never fully believe writers who say, "I just write for myself." The very act of writing is a creation of doorways for others. The invitation to meaning, to finding given and shared worth, is what writers imprint on every narrative doorway.

Varied Responses

Each reader responds uniquely to a particular invitation to meaning. Some are immersed and joyful. Others are skeptical. Some are quietly curious and explore with gratitude. Writers are never fully in control of what readers will experience when they go through the threshold, and that's part of what makes writing so thrilling. As a writer, I can shape an entryway, paint a world, fill it with intentions and decisions, and mark a pathway to follow. But I can't control reader responses, any more than I can predict the future. God is sovereign over the details and dilemmas that build up the perspective of each person. The thrill of writing is learning that we, too, might add to the details of someone's life.

Turn the handle

On the back cover of my book, I have in bold type the words "Turn the handle." That's an invitation to explore the world of The White Door. But it's also an invitation to enter the threshold of any and every story that meets you on a given day, some with pages but others with flesh-and-blood people. We can never be fully prepared for what we find on the other side of the threshold. But that's precisely what makes entering worthwhile. We turn the handle ultimately because we don't know what's about to turn us.

Here's to the many doors that stand before you today.

Explore The White Door

Dingmans Ferry, Pennsylvania has deep secrets hidden behind a luminous white door in the woods. And Seth Logan — a young dad and composition teacher battling anxiety and grief — has discovered them. Walking through the white door opens Seth to a world of soul-gripping beauty.

But trouble lurks in a mysterious figure named Skotos, the keeper of a black door, who has been stealing residents one by one for decades and has now targeted Cleft Warrington, Seth's fatherly mentor. As Skotos plots and advances, Seth works with others who have walked through the white door to protect his family, his friends, and the rest of the town from an evil that buries life in the darkest places.

In a world with talking animals, toddler riddles, and holy hallucinations, Seth must face his own fear of mortality and the stubborn ghost of loss. The White Door delves into the nature of good and evil, the importance of hope and faith, and the sacrifice required to make light triumph over darkness.

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