Are you a storyteller?
A good friend of mine has been a storyteller all his life, and he has used that talent to communicate humor and interesting ideas, all with a moral. He has for many years, journeyed, on a weekly basis, 40 miles to the children’s cancer ward of the nearby hospital where he would share his stories and amaze the children with his magic act. He has shared his talent at our church as a lay minister and has given the children’s message with his stories. His is a talent we all seem to admire.
The truth of the matter is this: We are all storytellers. In our everyday lives we communicate in stories, in narratives that tell of events and feelings and happenings. We tell others of our children’s accomplishments, of things we have read, of travel experiences, of special moments that we treasure and wish to share, etc. It is through these stories that we reach out to others in support, in comfort, in fun, in communion. And it is through the telling of our stories that we communicate who we are, what is important to us, and our love for others.
Not long ago I came across “A Storytellers Prayer” that says in part that God has called us all be to storytellers, to be trailblazers, to be “fools for Christ’s sake…bearing life’s absurdities and puncturing our seriousness and grandiosity.” The prayer goes on to say that we are called to be “weavers”, tracing, stretching and connecting disconnected lives; and “poets” and artists, illuminators of inner space, heralding the presence of God in our very lives. The prayer concludes with this: Lord, you lavish gifts on all whom you call, that we may be catalysts of your kingdom in the world.
Recently I attended a chapel service where the homily was given by a vital and active 90-year-old. Her message followed closely the life she lives, sharing generously the produce of her many gardens, as well as her time and treasure to causes as far-reaching as world hunger. She spoke of planting seeds and waiting expectantly for the resulting flower or vegetable, equating that effort with how we plant seeds by the way we live our lives and the way we relate to others. As I listened, I thought about the Storyteller’s Prayer and how we are all called to be storytellers, sowers of ideas and experiences, cultivators of new ways of thinking. For this beautiful lady, her gardens are her stories.
My friend, the storyteller, reaches out and touches the lives of children who are vulnerable and caught up in the cruelty of the cancer treatments that could save their lives. In those minutes with the storyteller, as he weaves his tale, the children respond with smiles and laughter and the rigors of treatment is left behind for a while and their world gets just a bit brighter. There is power in his stories.
Research by authors Aaker and Smith for in their book, The Dragonfly Effect , showed us that “the power of story is a profound one: it can help you connect with and move your audience”. The Dragonfly Effect describes how ideas are communicated through social media, conversation, and, yes, storytelling. Can it heal? Maybe. I choose to think that stories can have the power to heal. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” How you made them feel by sharing your story.
Yes, we are all storytellers. Our stories have the power to resurrect memories, to touch others, to relive special times. Those stories also describe the teller, that person’s characteristics and beliefs, what is important to them. At the heart, our stories communicate a life filled with meaning and purpose. And what about the hearer of those stories? Stories can be transformative by introducing new ideas and ways of thinking, by suggesting new directions, or ways of solving problems. Yes!
Does your story have power? Maybe your story will encourage another to tell their story, and then another to tell their story…and thus the dragonfly effect is born. Does your story have power? You bet. Maybe it’s time for you to tell it…
For What Its Worth.