Finding Silver Linings in Stories

Last week, a friend showed me how to look for silver linings.

The news is often disturbing, but in the last couple of weeks the horrors that some people will inflict on others makes me want to run and hide. Only I don’t know where I’d go.

The Brandon Vandenburg and Brock Turner rapes rob me of sleep. Is our culture is no further along than when I was a teenager? I seethe not only over the injustice of the sentence handed down to Brock Turner. I shudder that it would even occur to a young person—drunk out of his mind or not—to do those things to a woman. That it would occur to their friends to let it happen.  That it would occur to friends to defend their actions.

Then Orlando happened. Horrific enough to be an entire iceberg, but sadly not. Just a tip. The bullets were not the only vehicles of hate. Tragedy brings out the best and the worst in people. Unfortunately, the media likes to give voice to the worst. It sells and gets re-shared.

People (other terms come to mind, but I’ll stick with people) used the Orlando attack as an opportunity for hate-mongering, pontificating, and demagoguery. The reasonable and logical Laura that hides lives somewhere inside my emotional ADHD brain knows that these voices belong to the outliers. But that brought me very little comfort, because I’d see heart-broken posts from LGBT friends and family members cross my social media feeds. The hate cut them, increasing their grief. Particularly that espoused from so-called Christian pulpits. Words sharpened by hate and fear took palatable form, severing—or at least trying to sever—tenuous faith.

Silver Linings in Social Media

As the days went by, voices of support and the spirit of love gained traction, sometimes from unexpected places. Utah’s Lt. Governor Spencer Cox’s moving speech. Fr. James Martin words of comfort, and the way he encouraged us to love.

Through his postings, one of my friends was able to teach me—and probably many others—something about silver linings.  They’re not always easy to see. He made an intentional decision to look away from the hurt and look for the good. He went out looking for silver linings. Literally. He took a stroll through Traverse City, Michigan, looking for signs of comfort and solidarity.

Rainbow flag as a sliver lining

Silver linings in vibrant colors fly throughout Traverse City, Michigan. Photo credit Guy Molnar

He came home that afternoon and posted 25 photos of rainbow flags hung in front of houses and in shop windows. Now he’s up to 42. And in response, his friends have posted the ones they’ve seen.

Silver Linings in our Stories

I wonder how many times I’ve missed the silver linings in stories.

I think of my family history as a tapestry woven by different people in contrasting hues during divergent times. Good times in bright, vibrant colors and sturdy strands. Anxious periods in timid tones embroidered with delicate threads. Huge swaths of grays and blacks mark times of fear and heart-break with knots and tangles.  Together those colors and textures make a beautiful story. And every once in a while, silver linings shine through.

My friend’s silver lining walk reminded me of something important. Seeing silver linings isn’t about drying your eyes, keeping your head up, or even keeping calm and carrying on. You can see them through your tears and in the darkest moments, but sometimes you have to look hard.

Your Turn

Graphic with silver linings on clouds

Are there silver linings behind the heart-break in your family stories?

As you write your own and family stories, don’t overlook the silver lining that often lurk unseen. Maybe you can make some of those pieces of tapestry into an ongoing bedtime story: a vibrant coverlet lined with silver.



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