I recently finished reading The Spirituality of Imperfection by Ernest Kurtz and Katherine Ketchum. The book is sub-titled “Storytelling and the Search for Meaning.” It is a powerful book that is capable of opening the heart and mind of anyone who reads it.
In their chapter on gratitude, the authors write, “Stories speak the language of the heart, giving us the means to express our gratitude. Among the greatest of modern spiritual storytellers is Elie Wiesel. A survivor of the Holocaust, Wiesel received the Nobel Peace Prize (1986) …” In his acceptance speech, Mr. Wiesel said
“And that is why I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”
Kurtz and Ketchum conclude, “And that is why we tell stories.”
One year ago, immersed in research for Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ, I read Five Biblical Portraits by Mr. Wiesel (1981). I had discovered a little known connection between the ancient Hebrew prophet Jeremiah and ancient Ireland. I call him Ollam Folla
in the book, and Mr. Wiesel’s chapter on Jeremiah helped me understand the prophet far better than I could have by ruminating over the Bible. Here is what Elie Wiesel writes
“When kings cling to powerful protectors, it is always at the expense of their attachment to God. True, the Temple exists and is open for services, … but the holy sanctuary seems something of a club. People go there to meet one another and discuss politics … Prayers are too bothersome. A few well-chosen offerings and all problems are solved … The image Jeremiah likes to use is that of a prostitute. He is not against her taking money for her services, he is not even against prostitutes; he is against rulers acting as prostitutes, repeating the same words to different people, thus leaving them devoid of any meaning, forgetting the words of God – and worse: forgetting that they have forgotten … To forget means to deny the relevance of the past.”
“To forget means to deny the relevance of the past.” Therefore, remembering is essential, and THAT is why I tell stories.
I am never comfortable with the title ‘author,’ and feel much more at ease when I think of myself as a storyteller. Stories can speak to us of things past, present and future. Stories carry meaning and whether they are true stories or fiction stories, by their telling, they beg to be remembered.
If you glean and remember one thing from my stories – from my books or my posts – that clarifies one unclear thing in your life, then time spent telling them is priceless.
That said, I invite you to read a story told to me by my friend JD. It is posted in two parts on another website I help out with. JD’s story of falling down and getting back up is something you will remember and something that can change your life or the life of someone you love. This is why we tell stories!