In the dark depths of long winter nights,
spirits slumber, too, and allow their stories to be
told – these are the storytelling moons. Elders and
storytellers who have been given tales to carry
speak softly, reverentially, and the people hear
them. The people do not merely listen – they hear.
To hear is to have a spiritual, mental, emotional
or physical reaction to the words. Sometimes, at
very special times, you have all four reactions
and are changed forever. Share stories, fill cold
nights with the warmth of your connections, your
relationships; hear each other and be made more.
That is the power of storytelling.
– Richard Wagamese, Embers (2016)
A couple of nights ago I sat in virtual time and space in a fundraiser for The Circle Way. On the screen I saw with joy filling my heart, several of my mates from when I sat on the governance council. There, too, were our beloved founders, Ann and Christina, together with practitioners from around the continent. The bell rang once, twice, and once again I felt deep gratitude for such a simple, yet powerful practice and its invitation: to pause, breathe, shift from social to sacred space, and settle into presence. As our “start point” – an offering to align with the evening’s agenda – the above story from Richard Wagamese was read aloud.
In less than a week, the northern hemisphere will enter into the darkness of Winter Solstice. Its long nights, like that bell, invite pause and rest; a remembering of the shift from social to sacred; and a settling into presence with ourselves and in relationship with others, including those “more than human beings.” Stories read, and shared aloud, bring the gift of being made more by the telling and the hearing.
Sometimes, what’s important will be repeated three times, explains the old woman in Wagamese’s book:
“You listen the first time. You hear the second time.
And you feel the third time…
When you listen, you become aware. That’s for your head. When you hear, your awaken. That’s for your heart. When you feel, it becomes a part of you. That’s for your spirit. Three times. It’s so you learn to listen with your whole being. That’s how you learn.”
Wishing you time for stories, alone and together, during these long winter nights. May you be made more by the telling and hearing.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.
7 thoughts on “The Power of Storytelling”
Blessed quiet time for listing, feeling, becoming aware and awakening. Love, Ann
And to you Katharine. Have a wonderful day!
Thank you, Susan.
Wagamese, long winter nights, listening to and telling stories – so much to love in this post. You have reminded me to add Embers to my pile of books to re-visit as I begin to prepare a period of reflection and writing. Thank you Katharine. Helen
You’re welcome, Helen. Enjoy your retreat.
Loved it especially the 3 parts to listening. Just I thing – shouldn’t hearing come first?
I thought hearing was just something falling on the ears and it is listening which assimilates it in the head.
Just a thought, you can choose to differ.. cheers and thanks- keep sharing!
Mohit, thank you for your reflection and like you, I’ve made a similar distinction. However, given this is a teaching from a First Nations elder, as told by a wise man in his own right, I’ll not debate. Kindest regards…Katharine
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