We tell stories. That’s how we learned to do this work. How we learned to peel back the curtain and glimpse the mechanics of the mystery. How we learned to see our own heart in another’s eyes. We learned that stories are the truths that are truer than fact, and the old stories are the ground we build our bodies from. The same ground that holds the bodies of all our ancestors – those of bone and those of spirit.
We have learned that stories are magic. The webs spun of words that weave the world. We have worked with stories as spells, looked hard at both our enthrallment and our responsibility. We – all of us, the human animals – are storytellers and in that telling we shape our existence, and the existence of others. In that telling we can re-shape it.
We do, have done, learned to do this work with stories within a constellation of entities. Gods and spirits and archetypes and energies. Personified pieces of perception that – whether you see their faces as metaphorical or more – give us a way to grapple with their forces. A way to ask “what are you?” A way to hear an answer.
Last Sunday morning we wondered together, “so what if the story itself is an entity?” If we were to ask Story to speak, what would it say?
The Expanding Inward team spent last weekend together celebrating the past and envisioning the future. On our last morning we sat down to talk about the story that will guide our work with the community that will gather in Kansas City in April of 2016. We work with stories. That’s what we do. The story gives its shape to the time we all spend together, and to the work we do in that container of time. Find the story, find the work, find the arc that will unfold that work. That’s the process. We start with a story. So we sat down to talk about what that story would be.
And none of us had a story in mind.
What if Story is an entity? What kind of entity would She be? A spider constantly spinning, re-spinning, repairing a net of connection? What kind of entity would He be? A potter spinning vessels into life on the enormous wheel of time, each waiting to be filled? What is the thing that wants to speak to us through the words we use? The thing that wants, not to tell us a tale, but to steward the necessity of the telling? What is the energy that gives ideas legs on which to walk through the world with just the birth-breath of the voice that speaks them? What is the god of that work?
We got quiet, and we asked Story to speak to us. What is asking to be told? Not “how”. Not yet. No titles or plotlines or casts of characters. But what is the flavor of this yearning telling? What sounds ride the winds there, and what are its flashing colors and how does it make your heart feel, to tell it? To hear it?
Here’s what we heard. Earth spirits and tree spirits and ancestors. Piecing things together, weaving and re-weaving. Reaching out. Pleading for connection. Warnings and calls for collaboration and invitations into relationship. Something about the wisdom of patterns and something about being a part of a whole greater than we can see.
We heard the shape of Story, its feeling-tone and heartbeat, and that shape invoked it’s Tellers.
You stand in the presence of The Three. Even the gods bow to them. They serve only the Story, because they give you the means to enter into it. One spins the thread, one measures it, and the third cuts it free and hands it to you.
“Use this well. Weave yourself into the web of life. Connections mend this net, make it strong. You are a part of the pattern, because not one single thread is not. There is no not-belonging. There is no not-fitting-in. You are an indispensable part of a warp and weft too vast for your eyes to see, but not too vast for your heart to know.”
Well, at least that’s what was said to me. Others may have different stories.
In Kansas City, in April 2016, the Fates will tell us a story. Clotho the Spinner, Lachesis the Apportioner and Atropos the Unturning with her gleaming scissors will spin us the story that Story wants us to hear. I hope to see you there. Let’s tell each other tales around the fire, shall we? And listen to some. Because, just like the telling of stories, listening to Story is powerful magic.
This post was written by Laurie Dietrich