This week I celebrated National Storytelling Week 2013. It was a week packed with fun, friends and family – a week that felt like a month – and a week that has prompted so many thoughts and reflections that I’ll do my best to get some of those jumbled sentences and ideas onto the screen for you to share.
First, there was the Storytelling Walk to the Long Man of Wilmington. Friends and storytellers gathered in the snow to visit two of East Sussex’s most wisened elders – the 1,600 year old Yew Tree at Wilmington Churchyard and the 271 ft high hill-figure on Windover.
The sun was shining for the first time in what felt like an age and we enjoyed the wintry walk, weaving stories of ourselves and our heritage as we went.
It was a fabulous reminder of the importance of community and togetherness, which was a recurrent theme this week for me. Stories need tellers. They also need listeners. No stories can be shared without the collaboration of the gathered group: each participating in that magical, momentary, sacred circle as a story is received and given.
But community is so much more than this, too… It is love, trust, support, healing, accepting, understanding and forgiving…
On Sunday I had the enormous pleasure to interview Argentinian Storyteller Anabelle Castano.
Anabelle is the embodiment of a wonderful storyteller. She is knowledgeable and wise – her work as an archaeologist, educator and communicator at Museo Etnografico in Buenos Aires ensures she is well-researched and informed. She is friendly and fun – Anabelle is instantly lovable, truly interested in everyone she meets and always willing to get involved with the most crazy cultural customs you can throw at her (Burns Night at The Wheatsheaf included Haggis Racing and Sword Dancing – she’s a pro!) And her gloriously sensual style of storytelling is captivating. Watch here on Eastbourne Live.
Then, unexpectedly, my whole world shattered mid-week. Sometimes the news lands on your own doorstep with such a crash that it shakes your home and foundations.
My family reeled from an event that left us all broken, empty, undone.
Stories were everywhere: stories that were only half true; stories with the details all wrong; stories we didn’t want to have to believe.
And yet, in the middle of all the turmoil, it was stories that seemed to save us. What held us all together in the darkness was Love. Love that understood that there are a thousand sides to every story and a thousand stories to every side. Knowing that stories are always somebody’s perspective; recognising that stories never quite reveal the full picture; accepting that stories don’t always take the turns you expect them to – but accepting what they are, all the same.
We came together to share our stories and perspectives, deeply understanding that one person’s opinions and beliefs were as valid as any other. Listening to what each other had to say, without judgement or criticism. Exploring our personal and interwoven stories of grief and memory. We recounted other stories too: the laugh-out-loud tales of childhood recollection; fond memories and shared experiences.
These are the stories that make up a life, a family, a community.
My community of family, friends and colleagues have been so supportive, so nurturing, so understanding this week. I can’t express my gratitude for you all. You are a blessing in the world.
When your roots are in Love, your petals will be also.