You've probably sat down and watched a History Channel documentary on one of those evenings when the next episode of Downton Abbey was still days away and you just couldn't handle another episode of Naked and Afraid. Chances are it was about some archeological dig, with a bunch of people scraping their way through a huge mound of earth.
As we watch they dig. Gradually they find stuff. Typically they find a bunch of broken plates, a few dog bones, but as they dig deeper, past the coke cans, they come to more ancient, more interesting things, an old wall perhaps, or the foundation of houses. Never satisfied, they keep on going, past the houses, to find even older ones, and then deeper still. Now they're finding glass, pottery, woven material, bronze coins. Eventually, they start finding arrow heads chipped out of flint, smokey patches of earth where fires once burned and then more bones. Finally they hit bottom and there is nothing.
By carefully unearthing each layer of civilization, the archaeologists are able to piece together the history of the settlement. The guy that dropped the coke can had no idea he threw it down on top of a medieval cottage. The folks who built the cottage may have had no idea it was on top of a Roman village, the Romans probably didn't know that their settlement was on top of a Bronze Age camp which in turn covered a Stone Age shelter.
Stories are a bit like that too. Especially the enduring ones, the ones we live by. They were all built on someone else's story. The archeologist uncovers things that were buried deep beneath our feet, things that we did not know were there, even though we were standing right on top of them! The verbal archeologist digs too, tracing the flow of narratives from culture to culture, age to age in order to uncover meaning, truth.
Stay tuned to discover what gets unearthed here at Lectio Divina over the next few weeks and before you know it the next season of Downton will be upon us again.