Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

“Why story and storytelling?” Thomas Boomershine asked in his book Story Journey. “Story is a primary language of experience. Telling and listening to a story has the same structure as our experience,” he said. “The episodes of our lives take place one after another just like a story. One of the ways we know each other is by telling our stories. We live in stories.” He continued: "Storytelling creates community. Persons who tell each other stories become friends. And men and women who know the same stories deeply are bound together in special ways. Furthermore, good stories get retold and from an ever-expanding storytelling network. There is something about a good story that virtually demands retelling. New connections are established between persons who have heard and identified with the same stories. And the deeper meaning of the story, the deeper are the relationships that are formed by the sharing."

“The heart does not respond to principles and programs; it seeks not efficiency, but passion,” said authors Brent Curtis and John Eldredge in their book The Sacred Romance. “Art, poetry, beauty, mystery, ecstasy: These are what rouse the heart. Indeed, they are the language that must be spoken if one wishes to communicate with the heart. ... Life is not a list of propositions, it is a series of dramatic scenes. Story is the language of the heart. Our souls speak not in the naked facts of mathematics or the abstract proportions of systematic theology; they speak the images and emotions of story.”

Without intellectual assent or intentional behavioral change, the stories enter the heart and affect change. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message, said that much later, after one hears a story, he or she proclaims “what are these doing here?” but then finds oneself embracing the truths embedded within the stories. “All of a sudden we see things and people we had never noticed before,” he said. “We hear words and sentences that make sense of what we’ve had intimations of but couldn’t quite place.” Curtis and Eldredge conclude, “The deepest convictions of our heart are formed by stories and reside there in the images and emotions of story.”

Cultural anthropologist Charles Kraft said, “For solid changes to happen throughout a culture, people must make basic changes in the worldview of that culture. Just as a tree can only grow as the roots allow it to, so a culture and the society that lives by that culture can only function as well as their ‘worldview-habits’ allow them to.” However, he warned that change in worldview-habits needs to be accompanied by a change in behavior. “Changes in both the cultural structuring of the basic assumption and in the personal living out of those assumptions need to take place,” he said.

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Comment by Steve Evans on May 21, 2008 at 12:37pm
Mara, I like the imagery you provoke here. It is true, the stories of our lives and the stories in our lives become the stack poles upon which our lives are built. Each one adds to the other, making more complete, more comprehensive, more clear, the overall picture. The stories or the picture help us measure ourselves - who we are and what we do - against that picture of divinity and/or more authority instilled within us by these images and "stories".
Comment by Mara Hawks on April 29, 2008 at 6:46am
I like the REFLECTIONS theme a lot, too. Can we truly view a flawless reflection? Every single image helps us build a whole picture, I think. I often used to remind my children: you are a child of God/a child of the Universe-- a true reflection of divine Principle, divine Truth, divine Love. I wanted them to have a true story/image to always model or fall back on as they journeyed into the dark forests of humanity.
Comment by Steve Evans on April 24, 2008 at 5:09am
Reflections... what a wonderful theme. Reflections and shadows; even more intriguing. I agree with you, Rivka, "...story is the best reflection of ourselves." And you are so right, Granny Sue, we have a tendency to gravitate toward a certain type of stories that reflect who we are, that reflect our nature, our character, our worldview. Isn't it fun to make such discoveries?!?! True, as we look back we see ripples and distortions. Isn't it also true that as we tell our tales, we create ripples and distortions? Maybe both within ourselves and within those hearing our tales? Thank you both for your comments. Let's hear more!
Comment by Granny Sue on April 23, 2008 at 8:40pm
I remember a workshop given by Tom McCabe that had us work with a partner to identify the central theme that identified the stories we told. I thought i told a wide variety of tales, and was astounded when my partner found the theme quickly--as I did with hers. Stories are a reflection of who we are, our journey, and our ancestors.And yet, as you say, Rivka, our looking back can have ripples and distortions. An interesting idea.
Comment by Rivka Willick on April 23, 2008 at 7:02pm
Reflections I'm facinated with reflections. I have 2 stories about reflections and another is evolving. What is a true reflection? A slight curve, a bubble, maybe a thin film on the mirror--they all distort. Throw a pebble in the pool and you wrinkle all the trees. And how are we looking at our reflections? Do we look at all of image, or just the part we like, or maybe we just see the flaw. Do we just see ourselves and nothing around us. Which is truer ... the image in the mirror or the shadows we cast?

Or maybe the story is the best reflection of ourselves.

Comment by Steve Evans on April 22, 2008 at 9:04am
Rivka, I agree with you: "...the oral story is the language of the soul." And this is what it is all about: "The intimacy of the oral story can leave a lasting impression." I love your thoughts here and where you are going with them. Yes, stories can be used for good and/or bad. Sometimes stories just reflect "what is" - reality, life - and they shape who we become. You are right: "Lets always strive to put 'the deepest convictions of our hearts' into our stories. Thanks so much for sharing this. I love to hear your thoughts!
Comment by Rivka Willick on April 22, 2008 at 7:27am
"Stories enter the heart and affect change"--I like that, I've been saying and believing for a long time, that stories (and music) can enter the heart and mind when all other forms of communication are denied access. But after reading this, I'll take one step further. Maybe the oral story is the language of the soul. I'll define soul as our inner core, that piece of us that defines and shapes who we are.

There's a story about George Washington and a pen knife. The story goes that he would take out the pen knife his mother gave him as a child and tell the tale behind it to inspire those closest to him. One day when supplies were gone and all seemed lost, Mr. Washington wrote a letter of resignation. He gathered his inner circle around him and showed them his intentions to quit. One of these men got the pen knife and told the general his own story. The resignation letter was torn up and George Washington fought on.

I don't know if the story is true, but the idea of our stories gaining power and returning to us to inspire and give hope is very true. The intimacy of the oral story can leave a lasting impression. When your very essence touches another, it can linger, last far beyond the telling and return to us when we need it.

I've had teenagers and adults retell me stories they heard years before. Some of those stories, they said, gave them direction and guidance. When this happens, when the stories I've told return to me, its often when I need encouragement or a nudge to keep going.

The spoken story can be so powerful. For both good and bad. Lets always strive to put "the deepest convictions of our hearts" into our stories.




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