The Healing Heart for Communities
257 Pages
English

The Healing Heart for Communities

-

257 Pages
English

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The only book of its kind that demonstrates the power of storytelling to heal.

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Published 01 March 2009
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EAN13 9781550923131
Language English
Document size 1 MB

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Advance Praise for
The Healing Heart ~ Communities
There is an infinite well of meaning in story. Here are storytellers plumbing and sharing
that meaning in an amazing array of settings. The Healing Heart gives us the opportunity to
dip into the well, coming up with stories, exercises, and inspiration that strengthen our
connections to heritage and community, to personal, social and planetary health.
— GAIL ROSEN, storyteller and bereavement facilitator, founder of the
Healing Story Alliance (a Special Interest Group of the National Storytelling Network)
This potent collection of wisdom stories sparkles with insight into the healing of
emotional, social and environmental wounds. The tales and the tellers, who are themselves
healers, entreat, encourage, and entice us to care for ourselves, each other, and our
precious planet as if life depended on it, which it surely does!
— Erica Helm Meade, psychotherapist, and author,
The Moon in the Well: Wisdom Tales to Transform Your Life, Family and Community
“The Healing Heart” is one of those rare books that awaken, startle and delight.
It’s fiery and completely alive. It lets you see your story more clearly. This book is full
of stories that go to the heart of life. It’s marvelous.
— Jay O’Callahan, Winter Olympic Bard, NEA Recipient, writer, teacher, storyteller.Storytelling to Build Strong and Healthy Communities
Edited by Allison M. Cox and David H. Albert
Foreword by Margaret Read MacDonald
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERSCataloguing in Publication Data:
A catalog record for this publication is available from the National Library of Canada.
Copyright © 2003 by Allison M. Cox and David H. Albert.
All rights reserved.
Cover design by Diane McIntosh. Image: Artville, illustrator: Lisa Zador.
Printed in Canada by Friesens. Second printing August, 2005.
Paperback ISBN: 0-86571-468-1
Library Binding ISBN: 0-86571-469-X
*Some of the authors of this book have offered their stories for other tellers’ oral use. These stories are
indicated by an asterisk in the table of contents. Please credit the author when you use these stories.
If this symbol(*) does not appear with a story, please contact the author to request permission before
telling his or her story (contact information is given with the author biographies at the back of the book).
Audio recording or reprinting of any material in this book requires permission from the authors.
Inquiries regarding requests to reprint all or part of The Healing Heart should be addressed to New
Society Publishers at the address below.
To order directly from the publishers, please add $4.50 shipping to the price of the first copy, and $1.00
for each additional copy (plus GST in Canada). Send check or money order to:
New Society Publishers
P.O. Box 189, Gabriola Island, BC V0R 1X0, Canada
1-800-567-6772
New Society Publishers' mission is to publish books that contribute in fundamental ways to building an
ecologically sustainable and just society, and to do so with the least possible impact on the environment, in
a manner that models this vision. We are committed to doing this not just through education, but through
action. We are acting on our commitment to the world's remaining ancient forests by phasing out our
paper supply from ancient forests worldwide. This book is one step towards ending global deforestation and
climate change. It is printed on acid-free paper that is 100% old growth forest-free (100% post-consumer
recycled), processed chlorine free, and printed with vegetable based, low VOC inks. For further
information, or to browse our full list of books and purchase securely, visit our website at: www.newsociety.com
NEW SOCIETY PUBLISHERS www.newsociety.comDedication
To my family, who waited forever for me to finish writing and always applauded from the back of the
room — Mark, who listened to half-baked tales in the wee hours of the night; Shanon, who insisted
that I can do whatever I want; and Breean, who pushed me to search for the deeper meaning. And for
all the stories yet to come… — A.M.C.
To family, fish, flowers, and bedbugs (among others) who have goaded me into telling, and are still
working heroically to make sure I get it right. — D.H.A.Contents
Foreword, Margaret Read MacDonald . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xv
STORIES 'R' US. . . . . . 1
New Beginnings, David H. Albert* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
The Goats Know the Way, Erica Lann-Clark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Seven lessons, Cathryn Wellner . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
YOUTH ON THE EDGE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Not angels — just champions, Joseph Andrejchak Galata . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Leonna, The Ugly Girl, Joseph Andrejchak Galata* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
Sharing stories at Compass House: Offering direction for runaway
and homeless teens, Lorna Czarnota . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
Bleeding Heart, Lorna Czarnota* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
The Girl Who Crunched Bones, Margaret Read MacDonald* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33
How Old Woman Kytna Brought Her Daughter Home:
A Koryak Story from Kamchatka Peninsula, Kira Van Deusen* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Tell down the walls, Bob Kanegis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38
VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
The Dragon's Tear, Dan Keding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Connecting jewels, Laurel Wells . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48
The Net of Indra, Laurel Wells* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Taking off Superman, Robert Reiser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
The Raccoon, Robert Reiser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53
The Golden Phoenix, Mary Louise Chown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56
Working with "The Golden Phoenix," Mary Louise Chown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
*Authors have offered their stories for other tellers’ oral use. Please credit the author when you use these stories.
See copyright page (vi) for more details.DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
In search of happily ever after, Allison M. Cox . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64
The Stolen Skin, Allison M. Cox* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
The Lady of the Lake Waters, Allison M. Cox * . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71
The Princess and the Pigeon, Diane F. Wyzga . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73
The Little Boy Who Couldn't Sit Still, W. Kirk Avery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77
SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION AND INTERVENTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83
Communicating with heart, Margaret Jones 84
The White Wolf, Margaret Jones* 86
Embracing the Shadow: Dancing with Dashkayah, Terry Tafoya* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89
Using stories in addiction treatment, Mary Dessein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93
The Coat, Bruce Taylor* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97
Snake's Jive, Allison M. Cox* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
LOOKING FOR A HOME 105
Homelessness tales for holidays, David H. Albert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106
Another Chanukah Story, David H. Albert* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
Joseph's Annunciation, David H. Albert* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
Paul: A Christmas Story for People of all Faiths, John Porcino* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
The Wolf's Eyelashes, Susan Charters* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 113
ELDER TALES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Our stories tell us who we are, Steve Otto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118
To Everything There is a Season, Wendy Welch* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 123
Stories live at Neighborhood House, Leticia Pizzino . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124
Stone Soup, Leticia Pizzino* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 128
Baskets full of memories: Rediscovering personal archives of story, Teresa Clark . . . . . . . . . 131
PRESERVING OUR CULTURE AND COMMUNITY:SHARING OUR STORIES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Games to teach interviewing, Doug Lipman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
The Wickenburg Way: A storytelling history play unites a community, Dennis Freeman . . . . 141
xOn the trail of Judge Rabbit: Sharing tales of Cambodian refugees, Cathy Spagnoli . . . . . . 146
Tiger and Judge Rabbit, Cathy Spagnoli* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 150
Growing Up In East Los Angeles: An Immigrant Story, Olga Loya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152
Tales from the heart and spirit, Joseph Naytowhow and
Cheryl L'Hirondelle Waynohtêw . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 155
Tapahtêyimowin: Humility, Philomene Corrigal* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
Beghqnuwétq HHéø Bets'édie: Love and Support , Gabriel Lariviere* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 160
Edeníl¿a: Self-Reliance, Mrs. Veronica Tobac* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161
Nêhiyâwin: The Cree Way, Harry Blackbird* 163
PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 167
Storytelling nature: Story speaking and listening in the information age, Susan Strauss . . . 168
Gaura Devi Saves the Trees, David H. Albert* 172
Hugging trees: The story behind the story, and beyond, David H. Albert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 174
Storytelling to speak for the heart of a place, Jana Dean . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 180
Magpie, Jana Dean* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 182
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT IN OUR NEIGHBORHOODS AND ACROSS THE MILES . . . . . . 189
The Learning Center, Wendy Welch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 190
Sun and Rain, Wendy Welch* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 195
Jack Fury and friends, Dan Yashinksy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
Storytelling on the path to healing in Northern Ireland, Liz Weir . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 199
A Wee Lift, Liz Weir* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203
The Two Warriors, Dan Keding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204
PASS IT ON! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 205
The Endangered Stories Act in action, Bob Kanegis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 206
The Endangered Stories Act, Bob Kanegis* . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 207
Bibliography. . . . . . 209
Author Biographies and Contact Information 229
xiForeword
MARGARET READ MACDONALD
PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, AND community and clear steps for helping them share. Cathryn
spiritual leaders have always used story as a path Wellner gives us much encouragement for our
to guide the thoughts of those for whom they feel sharing of stories in her “Seven Lessons.” Telling to
responsible. Today’s religious and educational disdainful junior high students, she felt she had
leaders still make good use of story. But taking failed and that the stories she offered were of no
story into the social health and medical profes- account. Returning a year later, she found that one
sions can be challenging. Allison Cox and David of those stories had lodged like a burning coal in
Albert have drawn together in two volumes the the student’s minds. You will find in this book
work of 66 individuals who have found ways to many techniques and remarkable stories chosen
use story effectively in their work. We hear from for hopeful success with target audiences.
folks who work with children, dysfunctional teens, But let me add my own notions to this book
at-risk families, and elders. We see tellers at work by suggesting that any story shared is a good
in hospitals, schools, shelters, detention facilities, thing. The very act of telling bonds our hearts
community centers. And we hear from those who together. Story shared from the heart is always
work one-on-one with troubled individuals, using understood to be a gift. As the one who offers this
story as a way in. This book and its companion gift, you may never know whether or not it was
volume, The Healing Heart: Storytelling to Encourage accepted. But rest assured that the story will have
Caring and Healthy Families, will do much to made its way into many hearts and that the act of
encourage the use of story in human services. giving will have been appreciated. And one more
No one can pass through this book without enormous value of storytelling: the story event
coming out the other side full of ideas and bonds the listening group. In this sharing of
emoencouragements. Joseph Andrejchak Galata leads tion and idea, the group becomes one. The
teachthe way for work with endangered teens. He ers with whom I work always express amazement
begins by asking them to stand absolutely still on at the almost magical effect the act of sharing
stage in full spotlight for several minutes. Until story has on their classes. Story takes us to
anoththey have emptied themselves and learned to just er place. And when we return from this moment
stand and listen, how can they refill themselves of shared experience, the individuals and the
with story and begin to tell? What an amazing group are changed just a little.
technique! Steve Otto shows us the danger of let- May you enjoy The Healing Heart: Storytelling to
ting our elders’ stories go untold. And he gives us Build Strong and Healthy Communities and take from
xiiixiv THE HEALING HEART ~ Communities
it many gifts to further your own work. For the tale effective. Educators, religious leaders, and
health care and social services providers, I wish environmentalists, please look carefully at the
you great success in adapting these techniques. tales and suggestions in this book. Think of ways
Using story does not require great expertise. to incorporate this use of story in your own lives.
Don’t stress out over the “performance” of the For those professional storytellers reading these
story. Just find a tale that speaks to you and share pages, I challenge you to look beyond your usual
it from your heart. That is all that is required. It work and help with some of the desperately
is the caring with which you share, that makes needed storywork revealed here.Acknowledgments
THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE championed the Angeles, and Storytellers Network of Longview. I
birthing of this book: am grateful for the friendships that have been
The Healing Heart finally got rolling when forged through these alliances and all the
encourcommunity members of Tacoma, Washington, agement that was offered.
planned a conference: Storytelling For Prevention, The storytellers of the Vancouver Society of
Building Wellness In Our Communities. Many Storytelling and the Vancouver Storytelling
thanks for the hours dedicated by the planning Festival gave me vital feedback while offering
endcommittee, above all Gene Uno, Sheri Badger, and less enthusiasm and inspiration — special thanks
N.C. Griffith, and to Louie Thadie for asking the to Nan Gregory, Melanie Ray, Kira Van Deusen,
question “Who wants to learn more about story- and Catherine Racine for opening up their homes
telling?” and hearts to me. And my gratitude to Merle
My appreciation goes to fellow workers at the Harris, Sandy Byer, Barb Gale, Nancy Duncan,
Tacoma Pierce County Health Department who Gail Catlin, Joan Stockbridge, Josephine
encouraged and validated my work in storytelling Pedersen, Frances Feist, and all the others who
— especially Merle Hemphill and Sue Winskill. believed strongly enough in my work to invite me
And particular recognition must be given to the to travel across Canada and the United States to
“Odyssey Ladies,” Willie Goble and Ruth Jeynes, share these tales and speak of the healing
applicaas well as the wonderful teachers and students tions of story.
who welcomed us into their lives every week. The members of Texas Women’s University’s
Kudos to my professors at the University of Storytell listserv offered guidance on countless
Washington’s Public Health Graduate Certificate occasions during my search for tellers and stories
Program, who expressed interest in my efforts to to include in these pages. The Healing Story
apply storytelling to health promotion/disease Alliance listserv and board members rallied to
prevention and allowed me to begin compiling the help, especially Cristy West, who kept urging me
Healing Heart books as my practicum project. on, and Gail Rosen, who acted as my patient
My heartfelt thanks to the storytelling organi- sounding board on all those late-night phone calls.
zations of western Washington that have repeat- Kind words from Steve Sanfield and Merle Davis
edly welcomed me to their stages, allowing me to gave me courage. I am grateful for all the
storydelve into new story frontiers: the Mount Tahoma tellers, health workers, teachers, and other
comStorytelling Guild, Seattle Storytelling Guild, munity members who told me they were eager to
Olympia Storytelling Guild, Story People of Port read this book and cheered me on along the way.
xvxvi THE HEALING HEART ~ Communities
I could not have completed the work without Thanks —
Madonna Sturmer, who washed dishes and ● to the members of Olympia Friends
cooked meals while I typed. And Allan Sturmer, Meeting, who have taught me to find
stowho planted, weeded, and watered the gardens ries in silence;
while I typed. And Mark Bassett, who built the
● to the people of Bread & Roses, who have
fire, kept the computer running, and rubbed my taught me to find stories in service, and to
shoulders — sore from all that typing. seek out the particulars;
I am grateful to the Brimstone Foundation
● to all my wondrous friends in India, who
for a grant that supported my work on this book,
first taught me — confirmed city dweller
and to the staff at New Society Publishers for
that I am — to find stories in the earth;
sharing the vision. The credit goes to my
co-edi● and to my family — Ellen, Aliyah, andtor, David Albert, for suggesting this book in the
Meera — who’ve put up with the fact thatfirst place and for keeping the dream alive.
I am often a notoriously slow learner.And finally, I offer my deepest thanks for all
those marvelous listening faces in the audience, — David H. Albert
hugs in the grocery aisles and school hallways
(Look, Momma, it’s the storyteller!), and parting
smiles in the detention centers, shelters, recovery
clinics, community centers and at the elder meal
sites. Each time you ask “Will you please come
back again?” — I want to tell these tales all night
long and would be willing to start this book from
scratch. This book, above all else, was inspired by
you.
— Allison M. Cox
Storytelling crosses over all boundaries
for it speaks the language of the heart.STORIES
‘R’ USNew Beginnings
DAVID H. ALBERT*
Shiva and Parvati lived together in a house off in a far-off corner of the world
that only the gods could inhabit. All would have been well, perhaps,
except Shiva would often go away for eons at a time to dance his
destruction of the world — from whence all creation springs —
leaving poor Parvati alone in the house.
Parvati was very lonely. Then she came up with an shaking.“This boy you have killed is your son!”
idea to deal with her loneliness. She took a ball of Shiva, now calming down and seeing what he
mud, combined it with dirt from her own body, had wrought, said to Parvati, “I will make
and with her own hands fashioned the loveliest amends. I will take the head of the next person
little boy to keep her company. And he did — who comes along and fashion it to the body of
laughing and playing ball and doing all the little the boy, and he’ll be as good as new.”
things that mothers adore about their little boys. Just then they looked out the window. And lo
One day, Parvati decided to take a bath. She and behold, the first person who came along was
asked the little boy to stand guard while she was an elephant.
bathing. Suddenly Shiva came home, having And that is why Lord Ganesh, the Bringer of
danced himself out for a while, and barged in Boons and Destroyer of Obstacles — the firstborn
through the door. Seeing the boy angered him, of Shiva and Parvati his consort — has the head of
and in a jealous rage he cut the boy’s head off. an elephant and the body of a boy. And, I am told,
“What have you done?” cried Parvati, still like an elephant, Ganesh never forgets.
At the beginning of any new venture or of a long As lord of wisdom, learning, and, most of all,
journey, or at the birth of a child, Hindus offer a memory, Ganesha is the god of storytelling. For
prayer to Lord Ganesha, the god of new begin- every story is a new beginning, a bringing forth of
nings and of second chances. Ganesha, in his memory, whether by a telling gesture that with a
strange, hyphenated body, is also seen as the sweep of the hand gathers the pebbles of an
deity who is a connector between the world of almost forgotten past, or by a turn of phrase that
the divine — symbolized by the head — and brings forth the bittersweet of a childhood long
that of phenomenal existence — the body of the gone, or by a narrative that stings the locus of love
little boy. and loss and brings with it renewal.
34 THE HEALING HEART ~ Communities
Every well-turned story, or so it can be said, is in our path. (This book, and its companion —
a hymn of praise to Ganesha. For in the remem- The Healing Heart ~ Families: Storytelling to
brance of things past, real or imagined, is the Encourage Caring and Healthy Families — is
certainpromise of a second chance. Ganesha is the lord ly large enough, and filled with enough morsels of
of linkages and the guardian of entrances. As I experience, to warrant a lengthy digestion!) One
look through the stories contained in the two vol- foot touches the ground, and the other is tucked
umes of The Healing Heart, each links the exigen- up under him, providing a balance between the
cies of the phenomenal world — whether physi- grounding of our experience and our imaginative
cal injury, chronic conditions, sickness, and even selves. And Ganesha rides around on the back of
death, or the emotional pain born of domestic a rat — I guess one could call that a commitment
violence, alcohol or other drug addiction, home- to basic transportation. It would be interesting to
lessness, child abuse, environmental degradation, do a survey of the make, model, and especially the
the disappearance of cultures, and community age of automobiles that storytellers included in
disintegration — with an entrance into a new or The Healing Heart use these days, but we haven’t
perhaps re-membered awareness, born of grace, the availed ourselves of the opportunity! (I’m sure
new, wiser head grafted to the older body. there are stories about these vehicles, too!)
Stories are the re-collection of parts of our- Hindus look upon the image of Ganesha as
selves in the process of becoming who we are or timeless. He doesn’t exist in history and doesn’t
were truly meant to be. The knight sets forth on make demands upon us other than to be aware of
his journey, discovers himself in a barren waste- his presence. In Western traditions, in contrast,
land, is confronted by his personal dragons, and God intervenes in human history. But the idea of
makes his way to the other side, having rescued the new beginning is equally embodied not only
his damsel in distress, unearthed the golden chal- in the New Testament Jesus, but also in one of
ice (itself a metaphor for the heart of the most miraculous stories of the Old, the
dechumankind), or simply stumbled his way, blood- laration of Jubilee.
ied and bedraggled, perhaps, but newly made Every 50th year, or so it says in Leviticus, the
whole, back to his own bed. But Ganesha is also soil of the land is to be allowed to lie fallow. All
the lord of categories and of multitudes — each landed property outside the walls of towns
of our journeys, and our stories, is our own, but reverts to its original owner, who may have been
the re-collection and re-membrance of them col- driven by poverty to sell it. And Israelites,
lectively is the multitudinous storehouse of cul- reduced to slavery for similar reasons, are to go
ture and community, the fruits and sugared rice free.
and sesame cakes Ganesha holds in his four I call Jubilee a story, although none is attached
hands. to it in the Old Testament, because no one knows
Ganesha is always depicted with a large belly, for sure if it was ever observed. But it has all the
an emblem of the fact that we can learn to con- makings of a story, for consider:
sume and digest whatever experiences life throwsIn the year before Jubilee,
● Interest rates soared, for no one would ● The cities overflowed and the poor went
take property as surety on loans. begging for work and for food, for no one
would take them in servitude.● The price of food rose steeply, for there
wouldn’t be a harvest, and the speculators ● The slave market for Israelites dried up.
had a field day, for no one could predict
● Moving and storage companies had all the
what would happen to the food supply. business they could handle, and yard sales
● Slaves began to disobey their masters, were outstanding!
knowing that their days of servitude were
numbered.
And then on the first day of Jubilee, the ram’s● Birthrates skyrocketed, as farmers had
horn sounding its utter astonishment, the Lordnothing to do.
God Almighty, Fashioner of All Things Great
● The number of marriages fell, for who
and Especially Small, stroking His beard andcould afford a dowry? With it went the
wiping His perspiring hands upon His bluemarket for wedding garments and good
workingman’s smock, looked down from Hiswine.
workshop in heaven and saw that it was indeed
● The value of land dropped precipitously.
all worth it. For He saw, if but for a moment,
● Real estate developers worked feverishly that the earth was at peace, and even in the midst
to convince town authorities to annex of a world scarlet-draped in greed, cunning, and
outlying areas. just plain indifference, the poorest of the poor,
● Banks foundered, and gold rose in the their debts forgiven, would, if just once in 50
international currency exchanges. years, be provided a second chance.
In the world of storytelling — as I hope you will find in The Healing Heart —
there is a little touch of Jubilee all year round.
5The Goats Know the Way
A JEWISH FOLKTALE RETOLD BY ERICA LANN-CLARK
“ he Goats Know the Way” is a story about often hidden symbolism. When I first discoveredTmany things, one of which is daring to fol- this story, it stopped me cold. “Retell me as I
low the promptings of intuition, the unexpected ought to be told,” the story seemed to cry, and so
signs that come our way. Sometimes we’re too I did. As I have lived with this story and told it
busy or too distracted by our doings in the world time and again, it has led me ever deeper toward
to listen to the inner prompting, even when it is a place in my own soul that was wounded and
calling loudly at the gate. What good is a sign if needed to be healed. My people say sometimes
no one notices? Embedded in each story, in the we need a story more than food. Certainly there
universal language of metaphor, there are signs are times we need to hear a story to heal our
aplenty, and they can take years to explore. Like souls. But there are also times we need to tell one.
underground passages, they only reveal them- Here, then, is “The Goats Know the Way,” my
selves step by step, and in this way they lead us feminized retelling of a Jewish folktale,“The
Sheever deeper toward an unknown destination. Goats of Shebreshin.”
I choose to tell a story because something in
me resonates to the characters, the images, the
The story begins in a little village in Yugoslavia, but it has deep roots that travel back in
time 2,000 years to when the Jews were thrown out of their homeland and had to run for
their lives (a typical Jewish theme). As they left, they took what anyone fleeing death
would take — the bare essentials — and the Book, the Torah.
North, south, east, and west they went, looking the desert; how even Abraham, the Patriarch, had
for any halfway hospitable place to stay. Though been forced to leave his homeland of Ur to look
they wanted to be welcomed in their new coun- for G-D. Now they could see this exile as just the
tries, they were at the same time filled with a latest chapter of their destiny.
longing for a homeland they would never see Certainly the book was a recipe for
homesickagain. They dreaded being changed and becom- ness, but it also contained, embedded in code, a
ing strangers to themselves. So when they read secret labyrinthine passage leading all the way
their Torah, they were comforted. Here was their back to Gan Eden, Paradise, the original home of
story, and theirs alone: how their ancestors had all human beings. That was why they took the
wandered homeless for 40 years with Moses in Book. The first duty of every tribe in exile is to
6STORIES 'R' US 7
find the way home, no matter how perilous the woman ever set foot in a house of study.“Let the
journey. But how should one parse the path, men daven,” said the women, “it’s men’s work.
when the Torah was written in the cunning, After all, don’t we do practically everything else?”
many-layered Hebrew alphabet, whose every let- Perhaps in a few Jewish enclaves in the great
ter carried a lifetime of meaning? Worse yet, each cities there were women who learned to read and
letter also doubled as a number, and each number write, who even became scholars, but in the
vilcarried altogether different layers of meaning. lages and towns? Definitely not. And this is
Each word could be read as language or numbers. where everything that is about to happen,
hapOnly a truly inspired reader could hope to pened. Middle-aged Moishe and middle-aged
uncover the mysterious path to Paradise. Tsetse, the hero and heroine of my story, and
You had to daven the Torah, read with your their two milking goats, also middle-aged, lived
whole soul, drink in the music of each syllable. in just such a little pinsky village in the heart of
Surrendering in ecstasy, you had to daven day and Yugoslavia, a land riddled with tunnels.
night. Then perhaps the heavens would open and Now, Moishe was no ordinary davenning Jew.
the Master of the Universe would hear you ask- He had a fire in his heart! He knew from earliest
ing to go home. That is why the first thing the childhood that he had been chosen to lead his
Jews did, wherever they settled, was build a house people back. He could remember lying on his
of study. It was a remarkable effort. There, day or back in his swaddling clothes, his wimple,scarcely
night, everyone — the men, the women, even the three months old, when suddenly the
unnamechildren— could daven nonstop. But the women able Master of the Universe looked down from
were always being called out of the house of the heavens and, seeing Moishe, pinched his
study. A child was sick, a woman in labor, an cheeks and crooned, “Daven well, little Moishe,
elder dying; without question, that was woman’s because you could do it. You could be the one to
work. Even an animal in labor, how could a lead them home to me, Moishele. I’m counting
woman turn her back? And if the grain needed on you.” Little Moishe reached up with his pudgy
threshing, everyone knew whose work it was. arms and crooned back,“Gaaaa.” It was a solemn
Who else should heal the children, catch the promise.
babies, cut the cords, comfort the dying, or lay From that moment on, a fire burned in
out the dead? Certainly not the men! Thus it was Moishe’s soul and to daven became his whole life.
the men did not object when the women were Well, of course, he had a little side job, and
natucalled away from their davenning in the house of rally he was married — to Tsetse — but only till
study. They were very understanding. “Go,” they the moment the heavens opened and showed him
said. “We understand. You have permission the path to bring his people home, home to Gan
because this we also need — it is survival.” Eden, Paradise.
Over the centuries, what had once been per- Now, Tsetse was no ordinary woman, for she
mission to leave transformed into prohibition also had a fire in her heart, or, as Moishe called it,
from entering. The men continued to daven,but “a little wild hair.” What exactly was this wild
the women stopped, and not just davenning,but hair? Tsetse wanted someday to daven herself.
reading and writing, too. By the Middle Ages, in There was power in those letters. Why should
Europe, no ordinary self-respecting Jewish women be kept from them? If she dared, others8 THE HEALING HEART ~ Communities
would, and she would bring the women back to Tsetse looked him over and thought he was just
their rightful place in the house of study. To that doing his usual, daily, pre-dinner davenning,for so
end, she was teaching herself to read and to write, it seemed to her, but if she had asked him,
but only on the side and between her real jobs: Moishe would have answered without hesitation
going to the market, cleaning the house, baking that, actually, he wasn’t even in the room. He was
the bread, making the bed, cooking the chicken poised halfway down a remarkably elastic spider
(and everything else), and milking the middle- web of thought that led from their little pinsky
aged goats, who were, to tell the truth, no trouble village all the way to Paradise. He could
practicalat all. ly smell the Garden of Eden. In spite of his
growIn the morning, she only had to open the gate ing excitement, Moishe reined in his feelings and,
and let them out. There they went, slowly with his mind, raised his mental right foot like a
enough, looking for good things to eat. They trained acrobat to take another carefully balanced
never went too far. They weren’t adventurous. mental step toward Paradise. It wasn’t easy. He
They were middle-aged. As the sun went down, had to think his way through the jungle of
meanthey came home. They were no fools. They want- ings and counter-meanings, the forest of
insinuaed to be warm and safe at night, like everybody tions and the swamp-like bog of connotations,
else. Tsetse milked them. Then she made dinner. but he was doing it, inching forward, closer and
That was her job. Meanwhile, Moishe helped. He closer, when, out of the ether, Tsetse appeared,
davenned at home, so Tsetse could easily call him holding out a giant glass of milk. It wobbled
to dinner. before him like a devilish mirage, diverting his
So, nu, what do middle-aged goats give for mental gaze. Her voice boomed and roared like
milk? Maybe a quarter of a pail between them. the waves of the ocean.“Taste, Moishe, it’s divine!”
Enough for two middle-aged people, and maybe Stunned, Moishe emptied the glass. As he
a little left over to trade at market. One evening, drank, the path to Paradise disappeared. With
as Tsetse let in the goats, they looked … different. his thick eyebrows drawing together in anguish
Their fur seemed shinier. Their eyes were clearer. and disbelief, he shouted, “ I don’t believe it! A
When she milked them, they gave half a pail — man can’t even daven in his own home? How
more than they had given in years! Astonished, could you, Tsetse? I was so close to the secret of
she looked at the frothy milk bubbling in the pail our return to Gan Eden — it was such a
beautiand, redirecting the next squirt to her open ful thought, so clear. And you just broke it! How
mouth, Tsetse tasted. The milk was delicious. many times have I told you, don’t interrupt me
She poured herself a glass and drank it down. It when I’m davenning!”
was divine! How could she not at once bring “But the milk, Moishe, how did it taste?
Moishe a taste? Wasn’t it delicious?”
There he stood in the central room of their “Tsetse, it was only a glass of milk from a
little house, rocking back and forth on his heels, middle-aged goat. Good, not good, delicious.
eyes cast upward as if he could see right through What is that compared to the return of our
peothe ceiling. He was making little crooning sighs in ple to their original home?”
counterpoint to the rhythms of the sacred words “But, Moishele —”
that he half-sung and half-spoke to himself. “Tsetse, you know from milk, and that’s it.