the listening time

Have you ever read Ruth Sawyer? Roller Skates and Year of Jubilo, and The Way of the Storyteller... Storytelling, the traditional art of storytelling, the Irish seanchaí kind of storytelling, was such a part of her life. She was the kind of person who knew to begin a story with--"Listen." How could she not, raised on the stories of an Irish nurse?

Early in the morning the stars drop so close to earth—no, water—that you feel if you cast up in the sky you could hook enough for breakfast…. There you have us, sitting for half an hour, talking in whispers, why whispers I don’t know. Perhaps because the world is enchanted and a loud, harsh voice might break the spell. And as we sat, there came from the four corners of the earth a hush, you know, finger to lips. I’ve sat that way with you so many times waiting for the curtain to go up. And we were waiting for the day’s curtain to go up, and for five minutes no one even whispered.” --from "Year of Jubilo"

At the beginning of this year, I told a friend, oral storytelling is something I've always wanted to study. Can you imagine, obtaining a degree in storytelling and folk lore (as Sawyer did)? Then skipping over to Ireland now and again, just to collect stories (as Sawyer did)? 

Four months later, Jesus brought Simply the Story into my life, the opportunity to learn oral storytelling, questions and discussion--in Ireland of all places (10 wet, green days). To use Lilias Trotter's words, "How wonderful God's timings are. There is a such a strange kind of heavenly poetry about them--& it brought such a strong assurance that His Hand is in it all, working out a purpose worthy of His great thoughts!"

Sabina Wurmbrand tells of a woman who once taught French and English literature, entertaining 84 women in a single, silent train car, telling the story of Dorian Gray over the course of three hours, capturing the imaginations of peasants and intellectuals alike. They experienced something great and beautiful, in the midst of something dark and terrible. 

I've always loved the power of story, but an immersion into the world of oral learners--the 80% of humanity, including developed nations, that cannot or does not prefer to learn through reading--an immersion into the world of spoken story shifts your perspective on the written word, maybe shifts your focus, as well, from a world of your own fire-side and quiet study, to a return to the singing time, when literature was an affair of the market place and the banqueting hall. A return to the listening time, the time of talk and tale-telling, when the longs hours were lightened with stories and conversation much deeper than today's children may ever encounter. A time when there was room for storytelling, and room for listening. 

Simply the Story, this way of sharing that touches the heart, not just the head... The Word who was born and made choices and told stories and asked questions and listened and died and rose again and sits at the Father's right hand. The Word--Logos--opening the doors of our hearts, so that the Spirit may more fully enter in.

1 comment:

sally said...

Lovely post.