Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Living by story
Australian Aborigines say that the Big stories are hunting the right people to tell them, like predators stalking in the bush. The trick is to put ourselves in a place where the Big stories can find us.
All of us are living a story. If we don't know what it is, it is likely to be a little story, a limiting one, woven from past disappointments and stitched tight by the people who are forever telling us who we are and what we can and cannot accomplish. If we fail to define ourselves, we let ourselves be defined by others.
As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre observes in After Virtue, "We are story-telling animals who must ask ourselves, "of what story or stories do I find myself a part?' in order to answer the question, 'what am I to do?'"
When we are seized by the Big story, we step beyond limiting definitions and beliefs. Great healing becomes available because we can now draw on the immense energy that becomes available when we know we are serving a larger purpose. We gain courage and stamina to get through the ups and downs of everyday life, aware that we are acting in a deeper drama.
This summer, I'll lead a weekend workshop devoted to "The Healing Power of Story" in a marvelous octagon building in the midst of blueberry fields in Ashton, Maryland. We'll explore and perform some of the Big stories from myth and literature that can heal and empower: the Japanese story of the sun goddess who hid her light because she was abused, and how she was coaxed back; the Gnostic story of the forgetful envoy who was sent into this world on a vital mission but forgot what it was; Dante's story of how we approach our truest life teacher by knocking on the heart. From dreams and shared journeys, spontaneous theater and entertainments, we'll harvest personal stories, charged with energy and meaning, in order to become the authors of our own life scripts.
The image is of the torchlit path to the meeting yurt at one of my favorite retreat centers, Mosswood Hollow in Duvall WA (think Wind in the Willows in the midst of the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest). I am leading my Dream Teacher Training here in July and a weekend of Imaginal Healing in October.