language


Once a long time ago (last week, which is a generation in blog years), I began a series on Story.Why I live on stories, why they nourish and heal me, why I believe that one of the world's deepest needs is Story . .. not that the world is lacking in Stories but rather in ability to hear, to walk with and sit with and to live among stories.

I am handed a note in church.  It reads,

I love you mom 
but I am running away anyway.  
Love, 
Tilly the cat.

As I type this my daughters are in their secret hideout.  Dozens of stuffed animals are gathered around, and there is a lot of whispering and dramatic outbursts and soon there will be arguing and tears too.  Because stories don't always work out the way we think they should.

My children speak a language of stories.  Their little lives consist almost entirely of stories.  I am amazed at the scope and detail of their memories, and I think the way they are able to tell me exactly what we did at their cousin's birthday party three years ago is because every event is woven so magically into an unfolding story in their minds.

It is a very small leap for their minds to go from their real-life stories into make believe.  Their lives are spent in story.

We all were born storytellers, born into stories, but when do we lose our language?  We soon learn to speak in facts known as True and story therefore is . . . well, Untrue?

But it is stories which facts float upon, stories which give meaning to our data and information, we walk among stories and live within story.  We cannot escape stories or exist apart from story.

The universe is made of stories, not atoms
-Muriel Rukeyser

It is one of the greater triumphs of Lucifer that he has managed to make Christians (Christians!) believe that a story is a lie, that a myth should be outgrown by puberty, that to act in a play is inconsistent with true religion. 
For the past several generations we’ve forgotten what psychologists call our archaic understanding, a willingness to know things in their deepest, most mythic sense. We’re all born with archaic understanding, and I’d guess that the loss of it goes directly along with the loss of ourselves as creators.  
Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water
We are studying the very beginnings- the first people and first kingdoms and now the very first known written language.  It is interesting that some of the earliest writing is believed to be
writing figurative, symbolic, and phonetic all at once, in the same text, the same phrase, I would almost say in the same word. (wikipedia)

Comments

ali said…
Oh jess, this was wonderful! Today I switched from student teaching in a social studies class over to a language arts room as a part of getting my license and I was thinking of these very things as I observed. I get this beautiful privilege of teaching them story. In many ways I do it in social studies, I tell them the real stories of people, but I am so excited to do it in a much more direct sense. They are starting in their textbooks which at first made me cringe but I am teaching Bradbury and Poe and graphic novel. I couldn't be more excited. Somedays I feel the lightness and joy of teaching nothing but books and other days the heaviness this wonderful responsibility.

Thank you for posting. Thank you for loving words and story, and for being unafriad to share them with others. :)
Jessica said…
Ali I know you will be an inspiring teacher! I wish I could sit in your classroom!
Janet said…
This is music to my ears. Just today I heard another news story about how much we need to improve education in math, science and technology. Which, no doubt, we do. But why does no one ever mention the need to re-enchant the world with stories?

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