I once was wisely told by Ted Chamberlin, “You have a story to tell, find a way to tell it” or words to such effect. And years afterwards I was enchanted once more to read in his book If This is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories? Finding Common Ground much more about stories and what he calls “ceremonies of belief” and I “systems of encounter”.
Some snippets from the introduction:
Recognizing the strangeness in other people’s stories, we see and hear it in our own.
Our own stories. Let us emphasize the plural. We carry, we construct, more than one.
It is the diversity that is unique, not, if I may dare, the story but its ways of being told, which is another story. Or so I read this passage also from the introduction:
Other people’s stories are as varied as the landscapes and languages of the world; and the storytelling traditions to which they belong tell the different truths of religion and science, of history and the arts.
Science is contrasted with religion and aligned with the arts; the myths of religion align with the different truths of history.
And so I progress in the technics of replay to one more excerpt from the introduction:
And are all ceremonies of belief as much as they are chronicles of events, even the stories that claim to be absolutely true. We first learn this when we are very young; we learn how to believe before we learn what to believe.
Before I could ask to be told a story I had to acquire the repertoire of diversity, grow into the use of pronouns: me, you, we. A simple elaboration of pronouns marking the passage from I want to let us offer to another, a story. And that “I want a story” only comes after some you some when, an often repeated when, offered to me stories. That is where the faith begins: someone believed that I would come into the gathering of story makers, someone had evidence that I was worthy of stories about and that some day I would bestow that worth again elsewhere.
That is where the faith ends: in the belief that the receiver is judged worthy of the story. Or so that is how I learned how participate in ceremony and distinguish rite from ritual.
And so for day 71