In art and photography, our eyes are drawn to repeated elements. Think of a graceful building with columns, or a flock of identical geese.
I realized recently I have a couple of repeated elements in most of my longer stories.
They include wild or misbehaving horses, bad weather and at least one character who believes she is a Christian because she goes through the right motions.
Wild horses are great for generating chaos. Bad weather -- not as bad as the Palm Sunday tornadoes or the Blizzard of '78 -- likewise are great for chaos.
But the lost "church lady" breaks my heart.
Once upon a time, I was that gal. Although I was raised in the church, went through catechism and confirmation, I did not understand the Gosepl until I heard it in church at college. I don't know if I just spaced out all those years or what. And no one is to blame but me for my situation.
During my wandering and wondering teen years I was fascinated by the occult, psychic phenomena, the supernatural, science fiction and fantasy. I must have worried my grandmother because she tried to get me to read books like "Christy" or "Joni." I passed on those two.
Instead, a pair of mismatched books and authors were like lights in my path and helped me get back on the right road.
The first was C.S. Lewis' "Chronicles of Narnia." After I read them, no other fantasy books measured up. Aslan's watchful care over Narnia resonated with me.
The second book warned me away from the occult. In "A Magician Among the Spirits" one of my heroes, Harry Houdini, thoroughly debunked Spiritualism and some of its foundational occurrences and practitioners. He revealed how all the famous cases could have been easily faked. His crusade started after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle convinced him to attend a seance where a spirit claimed to be Houdini's late mother. She told him she loved him and was at peace but he was upset. The supposed spirit spoke in English. Houdini's immigrant mother never learned English and always spoke to him in her first language.
Spiritualism was all a fraud. I remember how stunned I was when his book revealed that. If Spiritualism was a fraud, so too must be all the other supernatural stuff I'd read about.
That left my heart wide open, fertile ground for the Gospel.
Because I'm afraid there are others in the same situation out there -- thinking they are all right with the Lord because they go to the right church, dress the right way, talk the right way -- I always find a character like that in my stories.
What other repeated themes and elements do we find in our stories? I will catch you all after work tomorrow. Have a great day!