Communicating through Story: Telling & Listening Creatively and Effectively in Ministries of the Word
In the summer of 1977 I was asked to team-teach a course at the Graduate Theological Union with my doctoral mentor. I had graduated with a Th.D. the year before, and now Wayne Rood said to me: "You teach the storytelling, and I will teach the drama." And so began an annual seminar that eventually became the core curriculum in the School of Sacred Storytelling.
Now, 34 years later, it remains at the heart of my mentoring persons in the art of sacred storytelling. It remains a small group process, limited to 8 persons, who immerse themselves in telling and listening for five days, mornings, afternoons, and evenings. It is an intense schedule into Biblical stories, Traditional cultural stories, and Personal stories.
Who are the participants? Generally, persons involved in a Ministry of the Word in a church: Preachers, Teachers, Counselors, Spiritual Directors, Liturgists. Over the years the mix has been consistent: clergy and laity, women and men, catholics and protestants, experienced and new storytellers. But others have come as well, and been warmly welcomed: writers, artists, Jews, Buddhists, librarians, therapists, musicians.
What stories do we explore during this week? Stories that each participant identifies as "sacred" for them. The Gospels, the Torah, creation stories of Native Americans, Greek myths, a powerful peace of literature. For some people, this is too broad a selection. And they choose not to come to our seminars. But we are committed to being open to the way God speaks to us, whatever the source of the story.
I myself am a Catholic, and I am committed to a dialogue through stories with my brothers and sisters who are Protestant or Anglican, or Orthodox. High Church and liturgical, Low Church and evangelical. We all share the same faith in Our Lord. In addition, I am a Christian committed to interreligious dialogue with Jews and Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. We are all in the service of the Holy One, Blessed be the Name… The Compassionate, the Merciful
And to other storytellers and story listeners who are secularists, or humanists, or skeptics, I say "Welcome to the world of stories where deep truths, beyond of beliefs and disbeliefs, dwell and nourish those who Question and Seek.
What other stories during this week? Stories of the peoples of the world. Myths, legends, histories, fables, parables. All kind of imaginative tales from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Islands dotting the Seven Seas. Our storytelling is always rooted deep in our past, and wide among the many diverse peoples of the world. These are the cultural stories that enrich our understanding of the sacred tales. They tie together the sacred and the profane. They celebrate the blessedness of words and The Word.
Finally, there are the personal stories. Not only from our individual lives, but from the broader circle of family and kin. These are the stories that are unique to us. When spoken, the give us a Face. A face that can be seen by the eyes of our listeners, but also seen in their imaginations, and most importantly in their hearts. Our stories are our icons, as much our true self-portraits as the ancient icons of Christ are his living presence to us.
"Storytelling as Sacred Art" can be taken anytime as a one-to-one Tutorial.
Please contact the School if you have questions, or would like to register for the Tutorial. (include your email in the form below.)