Monday, August 17, 2009

Heading for a Strange Shore

I am engaged to tell a story at a Tibetan Buddhist Centre for their children’s weekend festival. I have been asked to connect the story to the image of a boat. This is because the children will be helping to build a boat over that weekend.
St Brendan - Edward Reginald Frampton
I tend to write stories for individual occasions rather than tell stories that other people have written and told. Each story I write has to work on various levels. The story has to entertain and invite both children and adults into a remembrance of their multi dimensional nature. This is the purpose of storytelling. It isn’t just entertainment but an invitation and an invocation to what is essential, meaning that which is of the essence.

So I take the theme of a boat and I am drawn to remember the song by the Waterboys called “Strange Boat.” I remember also the lines from a Leonard Cohen song called Suzanne that begins,

“Suzanne takes you down to her place by the river.
You can hear the boats go by you can spend the night beside her.”

I am also reminded that meditation is like sitting on the bank of a river watching the boats go by. The boats are a metaphor for our thoughts. Sometimes, in fact, more times than we care to admit, we climb into the boat and are carried down river and sometimes down the rapids. We get caught up in the drama and the trauma of our lives. In preparing to write this story these are ideas that immediately spring to mind.

Then there is the requirement of the audience to whom the story will be told. The story should include aspects that make the children choose a course of action. This is usually a course between playing safe or following the call of their heart. The call of the heart often takes them into those places of threshold that the rational mind says, “Don’t go there.” Such places are the dark wood, the enchanted forest, and the door in the back of the wardrobe.

So I take the lines from the Waterboy`s song Strange Boat which begins

We’re sailing in a strange boat,
We’re headed for a strange shore.
We’re sailing in a strange boat
We’re headed for a strange shore
Carrying the strangest cargo
Ever hauled aboard.

Here you have a beginning idea for a story. A story about a strange boat going somewhere strange and carrying a strange cargo. Children like strange. This is a metaphor for your life and for my life.

The strange boat can be considered our relationship to our body. The strange shore can be considered the shore of the timeless and our connection to Love. The strange cargo can be the beauty we radiate from within our hearts. For to many of us we have become estranged from our unique heartsong. We call our body strange because it is the wrong shape. We call ourselves strange because our sexuality doesn’t fit. We stay on the shore of time and space and we become alienated from the timeless beauty we are here to share.

A story can be a heartsong. It has to be a story that speaks to your heart and the longing of your heart. It is a kind of story that pulls you deeper than maybe your rational mind wants to go. This is the purpose of parable, riddle and mythic stories. They aren’t simply old stories they are timeless stories related to the journey of consciousness in form.

Such stories inform you but are not more information. They reach in and touch the vastness of your hearts potential to know and feel your connection with your timeless nature. This is, if you will allow it, your holy longing. It is your longing to remember the place where your heart knows its true homeplace. The purpose of the story is to remind you in the lines of the Derek Walcott poem.

You will meet again the one
Who has loved you all your life
The one who you give up for another.

Love after Love.
Derek Walcott.

Storytelling is there to invite you to come home to the one you think is stranger than strange but who has been given up for an image in the mirror that is more acceptable to the world. This is the image you call “little me” and by contrast to the vastness of who you are it really is so little. You are after all Love incarnate.

1 comment:

  1. Stories are certainly powerful things. While I may not agree with some of your preconceived notions about reality, I completely agree that stories are the best way to communicate with people about what is most interesting, best, and most important in life. God Bless.