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Making Use of the Power of Story During Crisis
by Chris King

We are all grappling with how to deal with the horrendous crisis of September 11th. May I suggest using the power of storytelling to help our children, our families, our friends, and even strangers. I am sure that you, as I, have heard and shared more stories since that fateful day than ever before. We tell others where we were when it happened, the stories of someone we know who was affected directly, or escaped from being on one the planes or in the buildings, and on and on. We need to tell and listen to these stories to help us start the healing process. In this article, I will share some wonderful resources you may access to help with this.

Read Stories for Children in Crisis: Nourishing the Heart. On September 11th, the wonderful Laura Simms, a world renowned storyteller from New York City was writing us on the Storytell Listserv what was happening all around her and in the midst of the terror and pain, she formed her idea for this marvelous project. She is publishing a book of stories to be distributed to the New York and New Jersey schools. In her words: “Together with a coalition of international storytellers, I have gathered traditional tales from around the world, stories that may provide an internal place of peace for children. Stories that explore and transform feelings of powerlessness and fear into courage and inspiration are enduring. It is our hope that these cultural treasures can provide new and rich images to replace actual or televised images of violence.”

“There are immediate ways to help our children find calm while feeling strong emotions. One of these is the intimate sharing of stories. We can ease our children's hearts while supporting the process of genuine mourning. These tales experientially remind us of the unceasing and potent resources of goodness, love, awareness, and spirit that we each have within ourselves as a natural birthright.”

“Stories contain seeds of healing, and telling them encourages growth and rejuvenation. Storytelling is an ancient method that has always served to bring people together and to stimulate creative imagination, wisdom, and compassion.” You will find these stories at http://www.healingstory.org/crisis/crisis.htm. Note: I just finished reading the stories I found here and found them wonderful and calming — even for me.

Become familiar with the Healing Story Alliance. A Special Interest Group (SIG) of the National Storytelling Network, the Healing Story Alliance’s purpose is stated as: “Our purpose is to explore and promote the use of storytelling in healing. Our goal for this special interest group is to share our experience and our skills, to increase our knowledge of stories and our knowledge of the best ways to use stories to inform, inspire, nurture and heal. We also wish to reach beyond our storytelling community to share with those in other service professions; therapists, clergy, health care practitioners of all kinds, anyone who can see the benefit of story as a tool for healing.” You will find their helpful, beautiful and informative website at http://www.healingstory.org . They have set up Guidelines for Applied Storytelling that serve as good touchstones to remember when using story in healing.

Visit the storytelling world of Allison Cox who combines her training and experiences as a therapist, social worker, health educator and prevention specialist with her love of story to create a healing medium that connects across cultures and generations. You will find Allison’s website at http://www.dancingleaves.com/allison and you will become caught up and fascinated by all of the information about the power of Story to encourage resiliency, empathy, respect and healing. Allison has been gathering material for her Healing Heart Project. She invited storytellers to help create a book titled The Healing Heart: Storytelling to Promote Healthy Individuals, Families, and Communities. She quotes Linda Fredericks, whose writing will appear in the book, “Stories convey the most profound of life's lessons. Children hear that there are other ways of thinking, feeling and acting, so they may learn through the characters in the story how to face situations with greater strength and wisdom. Many of the great stories from throughout the world teach that there is hope, even in the darkest of situations. Stories are also effective in increasing tolerance and understanding of people from other cultures. Storytelling can promote social competence by showing the young people which qualities cause relationships to thrive and which actions sow distrust and discord.

Promise yourself that you won’t rush through all of the resources I’ve mentioned. And I promise you that you will be glad for every minute spent immersed in the stories — and also will feel calmer and more peaceful than when you started on this journey. Enjoy!



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