Category Archives: Storytelling

Recommitting…

A few years ago I decided that I was going to stop beating myself up about Not Being A Writer and learn to love being a storyteller. On the whole that’s gone quite well, except that now and then I do actually think of something I’d like to say – and it’s become too easy to dismiss those thoughts because, after all, I’m not trying to be a writer any more.

William Stafford advises poets in Writing the Australian Crawl – when your work doesn’t meet your own standards, lower your standards. Seems like a plan to me. I’m going to try to write about what I’m thinking and reading, for my own edification…unliterary and unorganized thoughts…in short, a blog.

What I’m thinking today – the Revised Common Lectionary readings from the Hebrew scriptures for this winter look like a dim sum cart. A dab of this, a piece of that. I don’t know how to deal with this as a biblical storyteller. I like to work with big, demanding chunks of text. The word for the day: DISMAY.

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King David in an hour and ten minutes

chagall_56verve_david_harp5

The King David workshop for which Jennie Kiffmeyer and I have prepared so long finally happened today, and I’m still feeling joyful and thankful about it. Thirty people came! We couldn’t believe it! We had (of course) enough material for at least twice the time – but conversations started that I hope will continue. I loved seeing people start to wrestle with the story. It’s so important that we don’t let the harshness of the story drive us away from it so that we don’t hear what it has to teach us.

I need to go to bed. I’m wiped! But I am so thankful that it went well.

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Have I Said Anything Interesting Lately?

We kept the feast, we told the story – it was, as always, exhilarating and exhausting. On December 21 we read my Nicholas story at the public library to a small but enthusiastic audience – we had story-related crafts afterwards and I was astonished and delighted at how well these went. Christmas Eve was lovely and on the evening of Christmas Day we had friends over for a meal and sang some of the old carols from the Oxford Book of Carols. It was a time of great peace and richness.

Before Christmas I met for a session with Jennie Kiffmeyer from Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond – we are doing a workshop together on King David at Under One Roof, an annual Indianapolis event offered by the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis. And for Hilltop I’m preparing workshops for children in February and March on telling gardening stories.

But the big news is Weirdbird’s ordination! God willing, on February 6 our daughter will be made a priest in the Episcopal Church. I’m finding this to be an event that is going to require a high investment of energy & emotion – and appropriately so! – but I am trying to press on with King David. Here he is, playing his harp, as envisioned by Marc Chagall…

chagall_013_david_a_harfa

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Recovering…

(Spelling errors corrected 12/9, with apologies to all you Euors.)

I had a couple of storytelling gigs in October that fell through – and then another one appeared unexpectedly – so I got to do some telling about Moses. The Society of Biblical Literature’s journal Semeia – no longer published – had a special issue in the 90s on slavery in the Bible with some wonderfully confrontational writing from African-American biblical scholars discussing how white European and American biblical scholars pretty up slavery in the Bible. It felt wonderful to read their passion and their honesty, and to look at the Moses story again with a livelier sense of the story as an escape from slavery.

And the tiny, determined Bible study I am in is reading 1 Corinthians, where slavery is on Paul’s mind as well. To read him wth understanding, we need to know how ugly and degrading it was to be a slave. When Paul says, “You were bought with a price!” to affluent, privileged people it is intentionally and deeply challenging. To them and to me.

I have one telling coming up in December and I’m also working on our church’s annual telling of Nicholas, A Garland of Stories for the Nights Before Christmas.

And what am I recovering from – me and everyone else I know? The election. What an amazing, intense, emotional experience!

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Telling Tales at Waycross

Yesterday I spent a good chunk of the day at Waycross [the summer camp and conference center of the Episcopal Diocese of Indianapolis] leading two storytelling workshops. Beautiful place, beautiful young people, and a beautiful spirit – the campers seemed calm and mellow. Something in the water, maybe?

With each workshop I talked a bit about reading vs. telling. I told them a very bare-bones Goldilocks and the Three Bears and then we had fun elaborating on it using details, voice, and body. Continue reading

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A long silence…

It doesn’t look so good when somebody doesn’t blog anything for four months, does it? Here’s what I was doing.

Liturgy was extremely complicated for a while. I am deeply involved in liturgical planning for our church, Saint David’s, and here came Palm Sunday / Holy Week / Easter Day / Easter Lessons and Carols / Pentecost, just booming right along, with the earliest beginning to Lent that I remember. I didn’t really get my feet under me during this time – just kept skating right along. Continue reading

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Putting Down the Great Story, Picking Up the Other Stories

lyla.jpgThe tree is down, the ornaments are put away, the Christmas cards are done, and I’ve made a start on the thank-you-notes. I remember with considerable chagrin all the years when I thought the Nativity stories were sentimental and boring – this was before I got whacked upside the head by the interpretive genius of Raymond Brown. Now I look forward to recollecting these stories at Christmas, and to being stirred by the passion for justice and renewal that breathes through them. Continue reading

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