The Word and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling
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The Word and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling

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Stories have touched the hearts, minds and souls of people since the beginning of time. For this reason they have been used continuously for millennia. Too many people stop with Bible stories and have ...

Stories have touched the hearts, minds and souls of people since the beginning of time. For this reason they have been used continuously for millennia. Too many people stop with Bible stories and have forgotten the art and skill of spiritual storytelling. A holy man once said, ”I came to teach you scriptures and you understood it not, therefore I will tell you stories.” Spiritual storytelling always has an underlying purpose, which is to inspire people with faith and communicate wisdom and values.

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  • Sometimes the meanings are very clear, but often one is left pondering over many of the details of each story.
  • A holy rabbi about 300 years ago said, “I came to teach you Scriptures, but you understood them not. Therefore I will tell you stories.
  • How many times have you heard someone say, “They’re just Bible stories”? If one does not believe in the stories, they can not share the wonder and beauty within the tale, nor can they convey the messages the story has to offer or teach.
  • The teller will lead the listener along a path that will strengthen faith and lead to spiritual growth.
  • Just look at the very first words of the Scriptures….Indeed this is the Greatest Story Ever Told
  • Hebrew is not a literal language, it speaks in concepts. Many of which can not be translated.
  • This was the way things were originally done throughout the ages
  • As a Chaplain at a Boy Scout Camp, I was always greeted by a full chapel, but only a handful of Jewish people were there. People of all faiths came to hear the stories I told. Many said they found strength in their personal faith by the meanings they heard in the stories
  • They are fit to be preached in public and one may stand in the congregation and tell one of these stories.
  • Most of religious stories will arouse the heart and draw it very close to G-d.

The Word and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling The Word and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling Presentation Transcript

  • The Word and the Art of Spiritual Storytelling
    • Storytelling and Spirituality
    • Many hidden meanings and noble concept are contained in the stories that the world tells.
    • Folk tales that the world tells contain many hidden mysteries.
    • Storytelling and Spirituality
    • Storytelling has always been a prime vehicle for communicating spirituality.
    • Some of the greatest religious teachers were expert storytellers.
    • Where Is the Spirituality in the Stories?
    • Religion is largely based on and communicated through tales.
    • The scriptures has two parts:
      • Instruction about commandments
      • Stories
    • Holy Stories. Faerie Tales, Legends & Myths
    • There are those who enjoy stories and storytelling but in the back of their minds think, “after all, they’re only stories.”
    • Listen and You Shall Understand
    • When both tellers and listeners know they are engaged in a sacred activity, stories and storytelling will be held more dear. The teller will tell with the tongue of faith, the listeners will hear with the ears of faith, and the circle of holiness will be closed.
    • In the Beginning…
    • “ In the beginning…” It starts, as if the Holy One, blessed be He, was an elder with a long white beard, who sat us upon His knee and began: “once upon a time.”
    • Holy Stories Are the Light of the World
  • “ To Separate Between the Light and the Darkness” (Gen.1:4)
    • A Jewish commentary explains: “The light is a reference to the ma’asim of the holy sages and saints, the darkness is a reference to these of the wicked”
    • (Bereishis Rabbah 20)
    • To Separate Between the Light and the Darkness
    • In Hebrew, the word ma’asim has a double meaning: Deeds and stories.
    • The teaching of the Midrash is that there are differences as great as the differences between day and night, not only between the nations but also between their stories.
  • “ And It Came to Pass That, When the Sun Was Going Down, a Deep Sleep Fell Upon Abram; And Lo, a Darkness, Fell Upon Him” (Gen. 15:12)
    • Many Have Fallen Into a Deep Sleep
    • There are many who have fallen into this deep sleep. Some people believe they are serving G-d, but they are really sleeping. The years pass by and what are they left with in the end?
    • Sleep, the Dread, and the Darkness
    • The sleep, the dread, and the darkness, were a vision of the lack of belief within the generations. The loss of faith is symbolically represented by the idea of sleep.
    • The Only Way to Wake People Is Through Stories.
    • When people wanted to speak of G-d’s hidden mysteries, they would speak in allegory and parable, hiding the concealed secrets of the scriptures.
    • What’s In a Story?
    • Most religious stories contain original concepts that are very wondrous and awesome.
    • They contain extraordinary, hidden, deep meanings.
    • Extremely Lofty, Awesome, Original Concepts
    • The stories contain extremely lofty, awesome, and original concepts.
    • Stories Will Arouse the Heart
    • Also in most places, these stories contain wondrous, highly motivating moral lessons, which an intelligent person can understand by himself.
    • Reveal the Hidden Light Until It Glows With Holy Charm
    • A holy storyteller – someone on a high spiritual level – can take a story that appears plain and dull, and can open it up to reveal its hidden light until it glows with holy charm.
    • Faith, Wisdom and Values
    • Religious stories always have an underlying purpose, which is to inspire people with faith and communicate wisdom and values.
    • Prepare to Tell the Story
    • The Storyteller had to prepare himself even more then if he were repeating the deepest teachings, and the one hearing the story – even if he is the best of listeners, and the one telling the best of speakers – requires more preparation than if he were preparing himself to hear the deepest teaching.
    • A Prime Requirement for Religious Storytelling
    • A prime requirement for religious storytelling is the realization and conviction that holy stories are not “simply stories” like any others. A person who does not sense their profound difference from profane stories – regardless of the latter’s excellence or charm – is not fit to tell them.
    • The Task of the Religious Storyteller
    • The task of the religious storyteller to help people find “a key to their own stories of faith and struggle.”
    • Telling a Story/Being a Storyteller
    • There is a big difference between telling a story and becoming a storyteller.
    A big difference!
    • Be Involved With the Story
    • A story cannot be read off a page as if it were merely words. Stories demand involvement, entering into the story itself.
    • Qualifications
    • First, a storyteller with religious integrity will not pander to an audience, cutting and trimming tales to fit their taste.
    • Second, a storyteller does not have a free hand to change things at will.
    • Stories Lead to Spiritual Change
    • The Stories will cause a person to repent before G-d with ultimate sincerity, so that they will dedicate themselves fully to a life of scriptures and serving G-d at all times, turning away completely from all worldly vanities.
  • May All Your Stories End Happily
    • Storytelling Resources
    • Other training sessions
    • Storytelling Groups and Organizations
    • Peers
  • Project Shalom P.O. Box 21549 Pikesville Maryland 21282 www.ProjectShalom2.org [email_address] www.ProjectShalom2.org/StoryTour