The Telling Place In The Age Of Binary

20170921 THE TELLING PLAE IN AN AGE OF BINARYThere was a time when I was a child, when my friends and I would take a short walk to Clackitt’s wood, stay out as late as we could – dependant on our ages and parents’ wishes – and tell each other wild stories. We would scare ourselves, and we loved it. As we sat on felled trees, someone would start the story.

‘Memory… is the diary that we all carry about with us.’ Oscar Wilde

It might be the story of the Llamhigyn Y Dwr, a creature that is said to resemble a giant frog, but with a stinger on the end of its tail, and bat wings instead of front legs. Another might remind us that it would part-fly and part-jump across lakes and land, hence its name (in English), the Water Leaper. Someone would start the story, and someone would add to that fragment of information, and sometimes someone would go back in the story to add or correct someone’s memory about the story. For instance, someone might remind the person who had just spoken that the Llamhigyn Y Dwr was, infact, said to be the size of a cow. Oh, how we scared ourselves, and became more alert to the noises and scuffles in the undergrowth. Could it be that the Llamhigyn Y Dwr was lurking nearby, watching us? As children, we loved it.

‘The imagination of early childhood has no limits. This is why children are fascinated by stories. A story has permission to go anywhere….The child rarely experiences the story as an observer. The child enters the story, it experiences the drama from within.’ John O’Donohue

Now much older, I’m sitting around a garden table in my ever-so-small, but greatly appreciated garden in London, with a few friends. This evening we’ve already shared stories of myth and magic, sometimes fragments of memories of a friends’ childhood, and sometimes more recent events, events that actually happened to someone we knew, and other stories that were fictional.

Stories are important. And more so in our electronic, computerised, fast-paced age.

The ancients, those Celts and Druids of old, knew of the benefits of stories. They would regularly meet around the village fire, in the evenings and tell stories that were, perhaps sometimes of individuals around the fire, or of ancient heroes and their ancestors, or of stories of cosmic proportions eg creation stories and/or of the tribe’s origin.

‘Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.’ Elie Wiesel

‘Do you remember when we all went fishing, and Tadhg fell in?’, one of my friends around the garden table said. They described a snapshot in time of yesteryear. I’m beyond being embarrassed by that event – yes it did happen, and I was only eight years old at the time, and I was, and still am surrounded by friends. And then another would share another fragment of memory. ‘And, yes,’ they remarked, ‘and when he was pulled him out he wouldn’t let go of the fishing rod. What a great fisherman!’.

And, bit by bit, these fragments of memory would be put together by individuals in the group to make a kind of cine film of activity, if you can imagine the old days when a movie was a long length of celluloid made up of individual frames of still pictures.

The ancients new the value of story-telling, when they met together at Telling Places. There, fragments of memory were woven together, and ‘bits’ become ‘whole’, and all added to the complete story, and all listeners were included. Fragments of memory, separate and ‘isolated’ were re-membered. The opposite of dismembered. ‘Re-joined’. Put back together again. And in community, too.

‘We keep stories alive because to re-member is to put broken pieces back together. We keep learning from stories how to make things whole.’ Mark Nepo

Telling our individual stories, or of those of our ancestors, and such stories can take the form of sharing the mundane (as if anything is mundane), of what happened a few days ago. Ofcourse, if something unusual happened, that would make a wonderful story to share with friends. But, every aspect of your life is important, and able to be shared, as your story minute by minute becomes part of the fabric of the universe and transcends time itself. Your story matters.

‘You didn’t think I would let go of a fishing rod that took me five months
pocket money to buy? I retorted to my friends. We all laughed. ‘And, I still have that rod!’

‘Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.’ Joel 1:3, The Book

Story forms community, it brings individuals into the group, it enables us to see the ‘whole picture’, very essential in an age that likes to fragmentise information eg three-point sermons all beginning with the letter Q! Stories heal, bind, enable depth, encourage laughter and other deep emotions, they alter and clear our perception, challenge and can comfort us, and cause us to wonder at The Source of All.

‘It is not by accident that the Native American medicine men put the questions to the sick who were brought to them: When was the last time you sang? When was the last time you danced? When was the last time you told your story? When was the last time you listened to the story of others?’ Mark Nepo.

And so, one of the things on my list to consider on my imminent visit to Iona, is to think deeply about story, our society, and how, as latter-day Celts and Druids we can give more weight and opportunity to the telling of stories, and encourage groups, faith groups and others to have periodic Telling places, and reap immense benefits.

It’s now late. My friends and I are still around the garden table, wine bottles empty, and we’re still telling stories, and eating the last of the cheese and biscuits. I couldn’t let my watery encounter go without adding, ‘And besides, I didn’t fall in,’ I quipped, ‘I was pulled in by the Llamhigyn Y Dwr, the Water Leaper, which was the size of a cow’. I laughed. They laughed. And as our Telling Place impromptu evening came to an end, it felt that as a group we were closer than ever to each other. Sharing. Laughing. Joy. Affirmation. Inclusion. Community. Love.

‘Every human is an artist. And this is the main art that we have: the creation of our story.’ Don Miguel Ruiz

 

Celtic Thought: Are We There Yet? [Connectedness In A ‘Disconnected’ World]

20170424 ARE WE THERE YET CELTIC THOUGHTI’m sure you asked the same or similar question when you were a child. Maybe, like me, you were in the back of the car, drifting in and out of sleep, journeying back home, and during those waking moments you would ask nearest adult, probably several times, the question, ‘Are we there, yet?’.

Now, as an adult we might rephrase that question, and apply it to other instances, but essentially we often ask that same type of question, whether it applies to a physical journey, a task in hand, repayments left on the mortgage, our place in the universe or in relationship to the Source.

And, where it matters most, say, in relationship to those cosmic, huge questions, those last two questions mentioned above, the answer could be…is, an outstanding, ‘yes!’. Surprised?

There is a school of thought that says we’re on Earth, and space starts a few miles above us. Point a telescope upward and you’ll see stars.

I asked a child family-member, ‘Would you like to go into space?’ They, ofcourse replied with a resounding, ‘Yes’. And, I replied, ‘Well, you already are!’. Naturally, they were a bit disappointed, having a childish understanding of what I was on about and really hoped that somehow they could be ‘catapulted’ above the Earth’s atmosphere – but, as regards their understanding, it’s okay, because they are a child!

‘Astronomy compels the soul to look upward, and leads us from this world to another.’ Plato, The Republic

As you probably know I’m an amateur astronomer, and the proud owner of a 12 inch telescope. Point it 180 degrees to the east at night and you would see a myriad of stars, Point it in the opposite direction and you’ll see just as many stars. Stars to the left, to the right, stars above and below. Yes, we are in space. Not separate, not different, but in space in one glorious feat of connectedness. Part of the universe, already. It’s just that some don’t think that. It’s true, but they don’t get it! Ego confuses the issue. But, in essence if we asked the question, ‘Are we there, yet?’ ‘Ofcourse we are!’, is the reply.

‘The wonder is, not that the field of stars of so vast, but that man has measured it.’ Anatole France

We’re included, not excluded.

There is a theological view that we’re separate from the Source of All. And, if we like those renaissance paintings where God is depicted as above and maybe sitting on a cloud, and humanity is below, then we can be forgiven for thinking that we’re separate. God up there, us down here. However, one commentator whom I shall call ‘The One Who Knows’ prayed a prayer to the Source along the lines of,  ‘That they may be one, even as we are one’. Taking that at face value, then we’re already one, already connected. Yes, we’re already there and always have been, essentially. It’s just that, existentially, some don’t know it. Ego confuses the issue.

‘For in him we live and move and have our being…’ Acts 17.28, The book (part)

We’re included, not excluded.

Ofcourse, the same could be said of people (that we’re essentially separated from others), or nature (that we’re somehow so different as to be separate from it), and so on. Is it so, or do we just think that? Included and part? Or Excluded and separate?

And, if we believe  we’re separate (even when we’re not) it could mean, and I would suggest it does mean, that we’re mistaken to the point that we’re are not (fully) exercising the Source-given responsibility, and not utilising loving-energy toward each other and nature around us, in what we think and say and do, that we should be exercising. Egoic limitations then abound.

‘Unless one’s philosophy is all-inclusive, nothing can be understood.’ Mary Ritter Beard

But, what do you think?