Growing vegetables from seed in my back garden is good for me. Surrounded by the upright noble silence of my leeks they teach me a great balance to spending long hours in class in the merry company of chatty storytellers... Observing the slow steady growth of this sun oriented sphere in my garden gives me strength and a deep sense of connection.
This winter I cherish a true treasure box at home. It is full of seeds from my last year’s harvest. On icy cold days the seeds patiently hold for me a promise and a reminder of many summers still to come. Until then, it is the perfect time to stay at home and tell stories around the fire...
In many ways, as an aspiring farmer I see parallels between stories and seeds; the best ones are kept and passed down from one generation to another. They connect us to our ancestors and origins and are essential for our future. As they spread around the world they keep changing according to outer conditions and new variations appear adapting to local circumstances. They provide us with nourishment and some even help us digest. In some parts of the world they are still exchanged and collected as valuable gifts. They store a hidden life force in them and the power of transformation. We could not live without them.
There was once a man, a seeker, who following his heart’s desire to understand the ways of the universe, took a vow to keep on searching until he had found wisdom. He traveled far and wide, pondering about the right way to reach enlightenment and put an end to all the suffering in the world.
On his journey he had conversations with many people, he saw many landscapes and cities and from time to time, he stopped in various spiritual schools where he met many wise teachers, seers and masters who passionately and compassionately spoke to him of the ways to reach the wonderful heights of the spirit. To tell you the truth, despite learning many things in theses places, at the end of the day he was always left with the burdensome weight of his earthly existence.
Now one day, as he was walking on a high road, he noticed to his side a path that went down across some fields. He decided to follow that path and did so until it came to an end in front of a small wooden hut, outside which stood a small sign saying: “Here you can buy EVERYTHING your heart desires”. The man entered the hut through a small door and there he met an old woman with long white hair and shining eyes. “Is it true,” the man asked, “can I really buy in this place EVERYTHING I wish for?”
“Of course,” said the woman with the kind smile, “EVERYTHING! So, what can I get for you today sir?”
Realizing the woman was serious in her words, the man did not pause for a second. He’d had the full list in his mind for years and so he immediately replied: “Well, I want absolute knowledge and understanding. I want peace of mind and a calm soul. I want to be able to understand and be understood by people no matter which background they come from. I want to know when to listen and what is the right thing to say in every moment. I want to be able to love myself and love others. I want the world to stop abusing nature and for people to overcome selfishness. I want no more wars and world peace and....”
“Excuse me sir,” the woman interrupted his flow, “I think you have a small misunderstanding...what you are asking me for are the fruits,but here in this place, we can only provide you with the seeds.”
Starting from seed.... If you did not do so already, it is never too late to sow a new year’s resolution seed. Some preparation of the soil/soul can help, Thinking a clear intention as farmers do, what do I wish to grow? which seeds are needed in order to pick the fruits my heart is longing for?
Once planted in the soul, a daily practice begins, trust and patience are needed, keeping positive while it seems like nothing is happening, nothing is showing outside. It may feel like a dark long and cold winter still we can mindfully continue shining for these seeds with our attention, inner warmth and love, offering them our best so they will grow to their full potential and one day bear fruit we long for. The earth outside is still cold and frozen but inside of us strong fire of heart will strengthen the soul. As the darkest night is behind us, may us all kindle this flame, telling stories by the fire and cultivating the right seeds.
With love, Roi.
Sue Allonby writes about her experience on the recent
13 week Now of Storytelling course
Looking back on the 13 week course, just a few weeks after it has ended, it seems difficult to try and sum up my perceptions of it in just a few paragraphs, providing as it did so many rich and varied experiences all melded into one seamless form. Simply to list all the positives; the stories, the storytelling skills, the teaching and learning, the pleasures and friendships, the playfulness and reflection, the hurdles overcome, the laughter and the tears, the coaching and performances would result in such a long string of superlatives that its very length would lose any of the intended impact or meaning. So I haven’t! Instead, here’s a story...
Once upon a time, there was a girl who led a very ordinary life, but who was always attracted to sparkly shiny things; gemstones, glass beads, jewels, crystals, silver, gold, and crinkly foil toffee wrappers. She loved them so much that she would go out of her way to search for them, although she often found her favourites quite by chance. Her shiny collection grew and grew and grew until she had no more room for it and it became so squashed and squeezed into cupboards and boxes that she could no longer enjoy it.
Indeed, her house would have become like some dark cluttered cave if it hadn’t been for a helpful boggart who would tidy up at night whilst the girl slept. The boggart’s charity wasn’t unending, however, and he eventually realised that as fast as he tidied and sorted the collection, it just as quickly became a complete mess again.
So, one night he helped out for the final time, leaving behind tidy cupboards and shelves, together with a cylindrical package on the table. When the girl awoke and unwrapped the mysterious parcel, she found a black tube with spy-hole at one end and facetted glass at the other. It was pretty enough to add to her collection just as it was, but when she looked through the spy-hole – wow! everyday items became sparkly, shiny and complex colourful patterns, changing with the merest turn of her hand. It was, of course, a kaleidoscope. The girl didn’t put it into a cupboard or a box, but always kept it with her, as the patterns it made were always just as good as or better than any items from her collection. So, thanks to the kaleidoscope, her house no longer became untidy and her ordinary life was always full of light and sparkle.
I said earlier that the course had ended, but in many ways it hasn’t. The 13 weeks was a bit like unwrapping the kaleidoscope, and now it’s always with me. I can use it to focus upon how to tell individual stories, using some of the many tools it provides; voice skills, geography, gestures, backspace, front space, presence, characterisation, temperaments, polarities, audience participation and so on. Or I can use it to focus upon the meanings and in- terpretations of the many different types of stories. Or I can use it to focus upon aspects of my own life and inner development to bring new insights and new ways of seeing, doing and understanding.
There can’t be many courses where a significant time is spent playing games, singing (sometimes silly) songs and yet where such real learning takes place on so many levels, both individually and as a group. This is down to careful and creative course design and direct, supportive and caring course delivery. When I arrived home after the 13 weeks I slept for nearly 20 hours as I felt tired – so I can’t even imagine how our wonderful teachers felt!
Thanks Roi, Rapha, Ashley & Sue for the course with all its sparkle and now ness.
The Body, Voice and Skills of the Storyteller
Visiting teacher Olivia Olsen (right) from the Canadian Voice Intensive in action on the workshop in the Storytelling Hut.
This course focused on opening up areas of our body and breath that are not connected to our speaking, which when brought into alignment created a natural presence and authenticity that was truly remarkable. Some of our regular storytellers described this as “the best course you’ve ever run.” We hope to bring Olivia back again as soon as possible.
Healing Words: The Inside Story.
20 March – 15 April 2011
It was in the coming together to plan the path for this course, in the translating of our inner knowing into language that Roi and I found a new depth in each other and this work. We listened and wrote and conversed in the search for our clarity, to make this course come alive in its aims, sensitivity, structure and process. On the 20th of March 2011 we will gather in the storytelling hut for a journey of self exploration seeking to understand how healing words are born and to explore the following questions:
How can we invite more joy, wonder and creativity into our lives? What serves us in nourishing the person we wish to become? How can we create peaceful and healthy relationships with ourselves and with others?
As a group, we will journey towards the place where we can experience our own wholeness, vitality, connection and inner peace - the place where the courage to tell the story we long to tell lives and from where healing words arise.
My name is David, given to me in 1954 when I emerged into this world. It took me 46 years working in the UK, Israel, and the USA to find my colleagues in Mango Communities CIC, the consultancy I now work in. In Mango my awareness of relationship as fundamental to any shared endeavour grew as did the importance to relationship of clear simple communication that is spoken and listened to by the heart. And it took me 51 years to find the School of Storytelling, a chance Google search led to renting a house in the back garden of the School. It took all of 2 days to meet with Roi and to be enrolled in the Now of Storytelling. As happens one course led to another, and another, and then to becoming a course co-carrier with Ashley and now with Roi to carry the Healing Words. This is my true work, the calling of my heart and soul, to be a learning practitioner in this world of opening and accepting self and others, of speaking and hearing true stories and living in the beauty of the relationships that grow out of these simple practices.
This course is a part of the developing body of work of the Healing Words initiative which explores the use of story as a medium to dissolve borders and conflict between people. This work aims to foster listening and self development, build friendships and create together new stories of hope, healing and peace. Since 2007 this work has been developed in the UK, Israel and Palestine leading to the creation of international storytelling for peace festivals in Israel with over 3000 participants from various communities in the region taking part and finding a deeply moving and transformational experience.