Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hunting Stories For Our Tribe

Storytellers and story catchers are hunter-gatherers, who go out in search of food for their tribe. Like the Amazonian shaman who explained the hunting ritual of his tribe, they say a prayer that expresses their intent to the Gods and Goddesses of the story telling family to send them the nourishment the tribe needs. Heart open and proceeding mindfully, they set off. Suddenly, the story jumps from where it was hiding in the bushes, as if to say, ‘take me.’
Story telling and story catching is a talent we’re all born with. Those who use storytelling actively in their lives have realized stories are how we connect soul to soul. Stories are how we face our monsters, and how we heal. They speak of love and courage, loss and heartache. They challenge and inspire us to fulfill our potential.
The garden behind our house and my father’s workbench were rich with stories. The dusty hills dotted with mesquite and Eucalyptus I roamed as a young girl gave me tales of arrowheads, snakes, coyotes and caves. The female mountain lion that understood my innocence and laid down nearby to rest for a while.
There were the concentration camp survivors who played jazz and drank vodka-laced tea in a cactus garden. Planted by an immigrant in honor of the city that had allowed him to prosper, Dante's Garden became the vessel where his hopes and dreams mingled with theirs.
There were the grandmothers and grandfathers I met in Golden Gate Park, carrying sharply pointed sticks and plastic bags they used to collect the trash and the litter. The group’s story is a legacy of compassion and caring for the community.
Stories of synchronicity are full of special grace and revisited with wonder. I was in Mexico City when I was struck down by fever, swelling and excruciating pain. After several days in the hospital, where I was poked and drained of strange fluids, the diagnosis was I would never walk again without a cane. That the aches and stabs traveling up and down my legs would be my forever companions. Released after dark, I walked out into the street, sobbing. It was rush hour, cars and buses jammed end to end. The fumes were overwhelming. Alone, with no one to call, I started walking. Still new to the city I had no real idea of how far I needed to go. Reckless and in my 20s, I’d never given much thought to how I treated my body and now the ease and agility I’d enjoyed had disappeared. Caught between grieving and self-pity, I saw an old campesino step from a darkened doorway. Barefoot, dressed in white with a frayed straw hat, he began to walk along side me. I didn’t yet speak Spanish, but I knew those soft words he murmured, the little song he sang were meant to comfort. Leaning into the support he offered as he placed a firm hand under my elbow, I felt a gentle calm begin to settle over me. We walked for what must have been an hour. When we reached my door, he nodded and disappeared back into the shadows. Later, in my bed, I vowed not accept the life sentence the doctors had handed me. That was the beginning of a longer story about personal growth and healing. And when I tell it, I always start in Mexico City when I walked in the company of an angel.

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