Storytelling

Before my last year of seminary begins in just a few weeks, I have made a commitment to read this book: Remember the Time…? The power & promise of family storytelling by Eileen Silva Kindig.  I have never heard of her, and it was only by chance that I found this book at Harvey Cedars Bible Camp on our spring seminary retreat back in May.  But I bought it immediately when I saw it, because I have been thinking about the power of stories a lot lately… how Jesus used them, how we can use them in preaching and teaching, how they impact me and how important they are to my children.  Heidi especially is big on stories lately. She wants to hear about the story of her birth, how her Daddy and I met and married, how Ben came into the world, how Grandma Joyce and Grandpa came to live with us and then how Grandma died.  She craves to hear family stories… it really is like an unquenchable thirst with her! So I have come to believe it was a God-moment that I happened to see this book and was able to purchase it.

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I am still early in my reading of it, but here are some key quotes that have caught my attention so far:

“I know that our stories, homely as they seem on the surface, are holy, uniting us as surely as blood and love and history… we’re praying in these moments.”

“The stories you tell as a family bind you close to one another, yet they give you wings to fly out confidently into the larger world. They teach you how the world works and where you belong in it. But most of all, they open the door to that holy and magnificent place where heaven and earth converge and time hangs in sweet suspension, if only for a moment… We tell stories because they save us.”

“Any story that affirms and redeems us is sacred. Sacred stories sweep away the stones, shove aside the boulders and clear a path through the dense sometimes confusing thicket of experience. They rekindle hope, bring us fully into the flow of life and remind us that God is on the journey with us.”

“We all need stories from our past. When you don’t know who you are, who your people are, where you come from or what is expected of you, it is tough to make good choices.”

“Children need many stories to tell them who they are, espeically the ones that show them where they belong in the cosmos– what it means to be born male, female, African-American, Asian, Irish, Italian, Christian, Jewish, Muslim. It is never enough to just know in an abstract way that they are any of these things. They need to feel it, expeirence it, know in their blood and bones what it means.”

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Fascinating! These are things I have known about stories intuitively, both from my own childhood and family of origin, but also now as a mother. I knew that stories were powerful in shaping identity and binding people together. I always knew they could crystalize our “knowing” of things– even our darkest and most frightening stories need to be told so that God can redeem them and redeem us through the telling of them.

Kindig has put beautiful words to describing what stories do for us as human beings. Amen, Ms. Kindig, Amen! I hope I can preserve and pass on our family stories for Heidi and Ben. I believe they need them, so that they can be anchored but also so that they can soar high with the wind!

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mike
    Aug 25, 2008 @ 22:23:23

    Wow! Are we on the same page lately or what?? 🙂

    Reply

  2. Loretta
    Aug 27, 2008 @ 08:48:07

    Kris,

    Growing up my children enjoyed the story telling. Some of the same stories were told over and over. I probably did not do storytelling enough. You have inspired me to include the grandchildren with the storytelling. On one level this has already started with Erin naming the “people” in the pictures in my trio picture frame. Two were school picture one was a toddler picture. According to Erin they were Uncle Paul, Aunt Laura and me (Erin). We had to tell her the one she thought of as herself was her mommy, What fun!

    Reply

  3. Aunt Pam
    Aug 29, 2008 @ 09:34:11

    Storytelling has always been one of my mother-in-law’s gifts. She has recorded many of them in written form as well as spending hours with my children as they grew, orally sharing the stories, many with spiritual lessons, while they baked cookies, worked in the garden or had tea parties or lunch together. In many ways, stories coming from a grandma have a greater impact than when they come from a parent. Even though I don’t see myself as the storyteller my mother-in-law is ( her memory is amazing and whe is such a word-crafter), I hope I can do the same for my grandchildren.

    Reply

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