the healing power of small and quiet stories

As I wrote yesterday, I've been feeling uncertain lately. I have wondered about the importance of quiet magic and small gentle stories when the world is sliding towards terrible danger. It has seemed to me that surely vigour is more important at this time, and meaningful words, and protest.

But this morning I read Terri Windling's latest post about returning to the work of art, and felt encouraged all over again. It's a beautiful piece, and if you are an artist, writer, mother, human being, feeling uncertain yourself at this time, I advise you to read it.


I believe in narrative therapy. Mythic therapy. After years of watching masculine theories of psychology fail for women, I have come to put my faith instead in the old witchy wise theory of sitting down on the ground and telling the story. Singing the story. Drumming it with fists against the ground. Dancing, walking, digging, wailing the story.

And that doesn't mean necessarily the story of what has happened to the woman. There are many times when some completely different tale is called for. A consolation tale. A little tale of beauty to remind her that beauty still exists even though all she sees is greyness. A ditty. A poem to get her up and dancing just for the sake of momentary laughing.

This is what I believe with all my heart. Actually, I believe there's nothing more important than the stories we tell and do. They make our world, our selves, our languages for gods.




The fact I forgot the potency of small, quiet stories ... especially mythic stories and fairytales ... shows me how shaken I have been - shaken right off my foundations. And none of the clever, strongly worded, sensible advice of determined people could lift me back up. But Terri did. With her gentleness and her empathy, with her small quiet reflections from other people who hauled themselves back up too with ropes of sorrow, of tender song - she gave me a hand, and I am restored. This is the power of the quiet voice.

Now I want to delete my earlier posts and comments, and go forth as if I have always been calm and wise. But I need to learn to live with my fallings. They show me what I want from myself, what feels wrong, and how to get back up. I shall go forth, but not as a wise woman, only as a traveller, with my feet wrapped, feathers tied in my hair, and my hands covered in notes I've written for myself about where to go, how to go, and ways to tell the story.


Art by the incomparable Rima Staines



15 comments:

  1. I, too, have been voiceless, struck dumb by recent events... but your quiet space, and Terry's, have helped me each day. Reading your words here, I could only picture this image of Rima's (my personal favourite http://www.rimastaines.com/watercolours?image#12). I am quietly telling my stories to the trees...

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    1. That is a beautiful painting. All her paintings are so enchanting.

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  2. We are sisters in some profound sense, Sarah, and we keep lifting each other up. That's what art, and community, is for.

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    1. This is true. I am reminded how the trees are sisters, foster daughters of the Mother Tree, and how they work to lift each other up. I hope now that scientists understand this (long after native people and dreamers understood it) there will be no more talk of competitive Nature, and maybe a slow shift towards less talk of the supposedly inherent competitive nature of human communities too.

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  3. I haven't read Teri's post yet, but I will. The past couple of years have been very difficult for me and for many people. In the midst of my difficulties I have learned that I can shape my inner world through the stories I tell myself which ultimately effects the way I relate to the outer world. And so, its very gentleness, *is* a powerful creative act. In my heart, I can spin a story of hope, a story where love and goodness triumph. I can turn the setting of my ordinary, suburban home into an edge-meadow cottage brimming with warmth and laughter and joy. In the telling it begins to become truth...

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    1. It truly does. I wish for comfort and betterment for you my dear.

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  4. Wonderful post, Sarah. It has been a tough week for so many of us. Trump will destroy not only the US but the world, with his anger and hate. (I voted for Hillary) I follow politics, at present I seem not to be able to pull myself away. I'm a quiet person, a true hermit, but this I feel I, we, must take a stand. I want to scream from the highest hill.. for my fellow Americans to take their heads out of the sand and do something. Anything.
    I long to return to my solitude and peace.

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    1. I feel exactly the same way as you, in everything you wrote here. The only thing keeping me calm at the moment is a strange, deep sense I have that he won't become president for some reason.

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  5. That wasn't exactly a peaceful comment I left. Sorry. But he has violated my soul, my being. I cannot rest until something is done.

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    1. But it was a peaceful comment. I don't find peace in placation, in acceptance of evil. Peace doesn't mean sitting quietly. It means being with rightness, where there is a deep calm of truth.

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  6. I love your stories, and I want to be reminded of beauty, of the little things. They lift me up when the world sometimes feels too heavy.

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    1. Thank you, this means so much to me. xx

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  7. I'm stunned reading this. Wish I had seen it earlier, because it's where my head and heart are right now. Where I'm sinking in deep. It's all aligning for me, reading this confirms that it's the right place to be.
    And I must read that article by Terri Windling. x

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