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Does Spellbinder Storytelling
Nurture the Spirituality of Children?
Pascal the Rascal, Lexington Spellbinder.
My answer is yes and here is why. But let us start with the near impossible task of defining the concept "Spirituality." On any list the concept of "religion" includes words such as church, creed, codes, bible, rules, worship, prayer, etc. "Spirituality: on the other hand, includes love, relationships, mystery, wonder, awe, gratitude, sense of connectedness, wellness, the giftedness of life, etc.
The language of religion then, is at its roots, the language of mystery: that which is beyond human understanding, requiring belief, wonder, awe, fear and maybe trembling. "Tremendum Mysterium" was a classic name for what one scholar called the "numinous" in life.
We can say that there are two types of religious language: 1) talking about mystery, by faith, creeds, etc. 2) the experience of mystery, that is, some sense of the Other in the common realm of ordinary experience. A typical worship service in some church attempts both. But we do not need church or organized religion to experience mystery in our human lives.
The mystery of love: the mystery of life, of nature, or the origins of life, of gestation, of forgiveness, of grace felt as undeserved gift. Mystery in fact surrounds us. Accidents. Death. Loneliness. The awesome fact and mystery of evolution: who we are and how we got here, and why are we here, for what purpose. The stars are night: the universe, planet earth and its wonders and chaos.
By way of full disclosure, I am a Spellbinder storyteller , and ordained minister of the Gospel, and a psychologist, mostly retired in the last two careers. Ass a Spellbinder, I am trained, certified and experience and a member of the Lexington Kentucky chapter.
So that the reader might understand my bias, let me risk several further disclosures. First and luckily, to the amusement or chagrin of family and friends, part of me has never grown up I am still, in ways delightful at least to myself (and to children in my Spellbinding( very much a playful, wondering child, excited about life's possibilities, adventure to be found everywhere, monsters waiting around the corner.
It helps also, for good and bad, that I am a right brained man. That is, feelings, images, metaphors, visions, dreams, people possibilities, wonder, awe and gratitude are natural for me. Fortunately, also, my wife is the left brained partner who keeps me "in my place," protecting me at every turn. Hah! As grace would have it, we both love stores, she reading several books each week, and my telling as often as I can.
On the famed Myers Briggs typology, Janette is my "Blue Earth and I am her "Red Sky," passionate sometimes beyond belief but intuitive enough to anticipate most dangers. More or less.
Therefore I love storytelling with children. I love the adventure that belonging to our Lexington Spellbinders chapter has opened fo me. I never imagined having such fun at age eighty one. Hah!! Sometimes I still cannot quite believe it.
Now that the reader knows where I am coming from, let's talk about the spirit of the child, the striking characteristics. I identified ten for a project recently. 1) A sense of wonder looms large: "awesome" is around the corner; 2) An openness to new adventures prevails; 3) Right brain is more dominant often, as the left brain is not so full of rules, reason, and the 3 Rs; 4) Children are naturally compassionate: the older child moves intuitively to soothe a younger child's upset. When there is more than one child who dies in a fire, usually by smoke inhalation, firefighters typically will find the older child with arms wrapped around the younger child; 5) Children tend to be intensely competitive: they are easily jealous and quickly offended if they feel someone (particularly a brother or sister) is getting the bigger piece of whatever. 6) imagination rules so they love stones usually of all sorts; 7) Cross cultural evidence is that our human brains are hard-wired for story, so we look for content to satisfy our cravings: A) to overcome the monster; B) to go from "rages to riches; and 3) to set out on the Great Adventurers of Life's awaiting each; 8) Children are small and live in a large and somewhat scary, complex world. They love stories of going against the odds, how shrewdness can out-smart the big guys. They crave encouragement that they too, still so small in a big world, will conquer the forces of darkness; 9) Children love to laugh and laugh easily, and often at length. They easily sense the absurdities of adult life and arbitrary boundaries; 10) it is hard to stop, but enthusiasm ranks high as a characteristic. The root of this word is fascinating: It means filled with, overflowing with that of the gods.
We might say that the language of children is play and playfulness, wonder and mystery, finding delight in adventure and laughter. Children find all of these in story.
When we awaken children, invite awareness into Possibility:, longings of the heart, overcoming the monster, believing in rages to riches, that great adventures of discovery and courage still await them, and that although still small in a scary world, we little ones can and will prevail, we storytellers are nurturing their precious spirit of the child. It hardly needs to be said that this focus is often neglected in our test driven educational enterprise of today.
This list, of course, is incomplete. Every fine storyteller will be ready to add another. Think about this: This spirit is what our Spellbinding folk fairy tales nourish! To use one of their favorite words: this is "Awesome!" Still. And we storytellers have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years.
My point is simple: the Spellbinding storyteller nurtures these characteristics of children. More evidence? Within a half hour, children "fall in love" with a good storyteller. They want to hug, touch, high five, and find out more about this wizard who tells stores so well that they are entranced. Their spirit is fed, nourished, enriched and delighted that someone, some ADULT, out of all the boring, rule bound adults they must deal with, can understand the world in which they live.
I think of spellbinding storytelling as a heart to heart thing. My sense of wonder, of mystery, awe and gratitude reaches out to the hearts of children around me. So I love the excitement of the art and craft. I love how they are nourished by being nourished in their hearts by me. By ME! What a privilege, what a blessing for this overgrown adult child! It is a particular gift for one whose professional middle class parents were so protective and perfectionistic that, well, darn it, I had to grow up too quick and missed too much play time. But maybe that is just my rationalization for spending so much time and energy now in being with kids in storytelling. Not a bad hobby for a guy who feels rightly or wrongly that he missed part of his childhood!
Storytellers, Spellbinding storytellers nurture the spirit and the spirituality of children. Oh, if our schools, educational enterprise, teacher and parents could understand this better.... Never fear! Like the pied piper, we shall lead the way.
It is a great privilege and blessing to nurture the spirituality, the spirits of many children through the art and craft of my storytelling. I do it without talking about God or religion. Therefore I am politically correct and under the radar of un-named organizations seeking to keep any conversation about God or religion out of our tax supported domains.
I am a wizard, in truth. Not the kind that produces magic tricks, but the kind that imagines, creates, catches stories about far out adventures, such as the author of Harry Potter. After being turned down by publishers on both sides of the Atlantic and finally finding one small publisher who risked investing in her material, this single mom is richer than the Queen of England.
Why? Because her stories and all such stories nourish the human spirit of children. Ruth Sawyer said the good storyteller will be "gloriously alive," full of amazement. Is this not what listening children catch (and what their spirits love), which cannot be taught, but only caught.
What is equally fascinating to me is that this process is not one way but a circle. My storytelling time with children is the best thing I do to keep myself that way. Yes!
I rest my case.
A thank you note from one second grader read: "Your wizard teacher taught you well." Do I need any further confirmation? I am nurturing the spirituality of children as much or more as I did in any of my other careers. Better still, this work nourishes me, my spirit, and invites me into greater mystery.
Post Script. If this mystery we call God loves stories enough to give us the Bible, a library of many different stories, are we who continue the storytelling inside the mystery still? Possibly. "Created in His image, both male and female, we are little raindrop of God's life feeling and loving the universe, extending Her story today, everywhere?
My wife prefers the Masculine. I prefer the Feminine. Naturally.
And if, finally, when humans began storytelling about one hundred thousand years ago and discovered the power of stories, that whoever told the best story had the "leg up" in the struggle to survive, thereby creating our human nature as we have it today, then are we storytellers not continuing the Great Story of the Evolutionary God? Possibly. Consider that we humans are the first generation to know that we are made out of stardust. In fact. We are part of the great story of the universe loving itself here on this singularly beautiful planet earth. Awesome!
"Now, are you going to believe me, or your lying eyes?" Said Groucho Marx.
© Paschal Baute, 2010.
Kindly send your thoughts and reactions to this to my email address
For more information about
Amazing Grace Wedding Chapel
ONLINE COURSE OFFERED
Announcing a new online OLLI course
Understanding and Using the Power of Story
Led by Paschal Baute and Charlie Eyer
Beginning February 9. Registration closes Feb. 1st
How does this work?
We assume that you have access to the Internet.
After you sign up and register as an OLLI student (yearly fee ten dollars), this Special Interest Group registration is free.
You will be send course information and how to use internet blogs. This registration also puts you on the OLLI mailing list for many other OLLI courses in Lexington, Somerset, and Morehead.
OLLI is the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Kentucky. See web link below.
For the online course, you will be sent weekly links to the course blog where you can read and comment and read others’ commutes. Your comment also goes to Dr. Baute’s email. If you have a query about the lesson, he will answer to your email. Lessons are 8, for 8 weeks.
Should you be motivated, you may also attend the weekly Lexington meeting on the same material, held at Trinity Hill Methods Church, on Tates Creek Road, first light past Gainsay light south of New circle, first light top of hill on right. This course discussion is held 10-12 noon, Wednesdays, starting Feb. 16. Easily accessible, lots of parking.
You may preview a more detailed announcement of the course by going to this link and reading Paschal’s Introduction . He will draw course content from the Table of Contemns from his new book. This will include an overview of the Seven Great Story plots found universally by Christopher Booke.
Registration for he online course closes Feb. 1. For more information or questions, you may email Paschal at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Find out more about course
If you are not an OLLI member, please register here. Ten dollars.
UK website. You must be an OLLI student to register for this S.I.G.
If you are already an OLLI member. Register throughs Diana Lockridge or Teresa Hager
Diana S. Lockridge, Program Director
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UK
Lexington, Morehead & Somerset
UK Ligon House, 658 S. Limestone
Lexington, KY 40506-0442
(859) 257-2658 toll free (866) 602-5862
(859) 257-2658 toll free (866) 602-5862 DianaL@uky.edu
UK website http://www.mc.uky.edu/aging/olli.html
PLEASE NOTE Invitations for our Dream Catchers spellbinder storytelling group are being accepted for this fall. We perform for any grou0p to raise awareness of unsafe Kids in KY.(Our state has the worst record in the nation)
Contact Pascal the Rascal, Lexington Spellbinder. 293-5302, Email: email@example.com. Web www.paschalbaute.com