About 7 years ago Patsy Pearce offered to lead a workshop for residents at Beulah Gardens, the first of many Storykeeping workshops since then. The stories that we have ‘kept’ for each other in the workshop experience have been rich, adding a deep dimension and value to new and old friendships. We have seen that everyone has a story of value and a lived experience that shines in the telling and/or writing. It has been a beautiful thing to watch how stories that some thought were ‘finished’, continue to live and grow, producing new recognition or remembered wisdom from the story.
I asked Patsy how her passion for storykeeping began.
Patsy, tell me about your interest in storykeeping. When did you begin to love a good story?
My father was a great storyteller, and I loved to hear the stories he had to tell me about his work his history, what he was thinking about, things that were important to him. He loved to tell stories, and I loved to listen to them! As I grew, I began to tell some of my stories too, stories which were not necessarily on the same path as his! Sometimes our stories led to passionate conversations about who we were and what we were on about. I loved all of this!
As my father was heading into his last years, it became important for me to gather together the threads of his story and experience. I wanted to know them, to remember them and to share them with the next generation. While I had always participated in and loved my father’s stories, I began to give them more value, to see how they had shaped my own story and understanding. Our stories together were a treasure that was larger than the two of us. I wanted to keep them, write them down and share them forward.
You have been doing Storykeeping workshops for about 7 years now. What have you noticed as you have facilitated these gatherings?
People want to tell their story. I think perhaps, it is because we have an intrinsic need to share our story and to see our story in the context of a bigger story. One story always sparks another, I think, because one person’s story – whether shared or listened too – becomes an experience that we share together and can be formed/transformed by.
Sometimes when people hear about the Storykeeping workshop they respond that ‘they are not interested’, or ‘they don’t want to go there’. Sometimes I have even heard, ‘no one wants to hear my story’.
But sometimes these same people still come after all. Cautiously, they listen and watch others being heard; ever so gently they begin to participate in the listening, in the telling, in the writing. Some even became strong storytellers themselves! Often In the practice of storykeeping people have been surprised by the understanding/meaning which they now recognize that they did not before. There is mystery in the shared story.
Patsy, how does the idea of storykeeping – telling a story, listening to a story, writing our story – affect our perception of our life experience?
Story is the way we make meaning. Sarah Polley, in her documentary film ‘Stories We Tell’, shows us how our personal stories shape us, how our stories change and how they change us over time. The stories we tell both reflect the culture and at the same time they begin to shape the culture. Sometimes we get ‘stuck’, thinking there is no more opportunity for formation or transformation within our story. However, as we engage our story once again, we begin to understand ourselves and each other differently, or more. We connect to the bigger picture of our shared humanity and to what is larger than ourselves. We gain a sense of being known, valued and affirmed.
The StoryKeeping workshop/webinar series called Storytelling for Life: Why Stories Matter and Ways of Telling Them begins on January 29th, continuing every other Saturday morning at 9:30am on February 12th, February 29th, and March 12th.
Patsy, tell me the reasons you hope people will join in.
If you love a good story and want to explore the stories that make up your experience, then join us to:
a. Get to know other people in a safe, gentle and life-giving forum.
b. Think about the life events that have shaped you.
c. Ponder the reasons why we remember as we remember.
d. Strengthen our shared connections.
e. Remember that there is more to the story than we have yet known.
Additional options available to church groups and co-horts. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.