Day 20: Storytelling

December 17, 2021

Day 20: Storytelling

Fine, skilled storytellers can capture people’s attention and imagination. I know – I’ve heard a few. Storytelling is an art I wish I had. Extemporaneously, off-the-cuff. I have seen others do it, and I am both wowed and envious, at the same time.

I was intrigued when I saw this entry on the Tree of Contemplative Practices, on the Relational branch. I suppose I had never thought of it before, but storytelling not only is an art, it can be a way to actively approach the Holy. A way to show not only relationship with one another (horizontally), but also relationship with God (vertically), too.

As I was reflecting on this topic (and entry on the Tree), I became sadly aware – again! – of my periodic aphasia. Yes, I had a major stroke when I was a teenager. Yes, it affected my whole right side, which I have regained control over. However, the stroke also caused considerable confusion in my speech center. I gradually, and painstakingly, relearned how to use certain neural pathways. For years, I would often stop in the middle of a sentence because I couldn’t grab hold of the word or phrase I had in my mind in order to communicate a thought. But gradually, this became less and less. It still happens, but not quite as much or as often.

Back to my storytelling story. In my late 20’s, I was serving as a youth pastor at an integrated Lutheran church in the Austin area. We had a large Vacation Bible School that summer, and I was the director of VBS. As I stood in front of between 30 and 40 primary and junior-aged children on the first morning, I realized I had not prepared for this. This opening segment of the daily program. (I had a toddler and a preschooler at that time. The toddler was plastered to my leg all week, I vividly recall.)

Imagine my joy and wonder as I started to relate the story of Jacob and Joseph from Genesis, and I found the words immediately accessible. No stumbling, and no aphasia. The children were excited at my story, at the gestures and different voices (for the different characters). I saved the day in that situation. (Yes, the children eagerly wanted me to continue with the story of Joseph for the next days!) And, I gained some courage, some insight into my expanding limits, and thankfulness that God did assist me.

I feel better about storytelling now, several decades later. I still get lost in the details, more often than not, but I do try to tell effective stories which aid in communicating about God and God’s will and ways.

Dear God, thanks for storytelling, which has been continuing for centuries, in many cultures and people-groups . Thank you for effective storytellers (of which I certain am not!). And help us all to be able to communicate clearly, in a winsome way. Even if our words are halting and our actions good-intentioned but somehow found wanting, Thank You for using us and our voices to communicate stories.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )

Day 9: Visualization

December 6, 2021

When I saw the Tree of Contemplative Practices and realized how many and varied these prayer practices were, I had difficulty even grasping that idea! Oh, the height and depth and length and breadth of the practices! The multitude of variety, too!

Another way of saying it is. these many different ways of contemplation just blow my mind.

Visualization is today’s variety of prayer. When Tilden Edwards mentioned visualization in his remarkable book Living in the Presence, I realized this was yet another way to use my imagination. (Yes, I do have an active imagination!) Edwards started his explanation with mentioning the powerful symbol of light, God’s radiant, loving truth. Yes, the Bible does mention the different physical manifestations of God’s glory! I chose the verses “God is light” (1 John 1:5) and “walk as children of light” (Eph 5:8). [1]

So, I tied my imagining cap on as I prayed in this way again, just now. I sat in a comfortable position, and closed my eyes. Almost immediately, I was aware of the soft light behind my eyelids. Persistent light, but soft! Gentle. Godly. That light surrounded me, and yet bathed me in a loving, gentle way.

What do you think God’s light would be like? Would it be the same every time? (I don’t think so. I have not experienced it that way, myself.) Personally, I do not think God would be so static, so predictable. That is the way it is, with our Lord. He is surprising. Loving and caring, and just and true.

This is one of the few exercises or prayer practices where I usually do not receive a word-y response. Does God talk to you? How would it be if Jesus quietly surrounded you with His presence?  Discouragement, despair, bewilderment –  gone.   Except, I am filled, I am bathed in the light of God.  Amen! Thank You, Lord Jesus.

Dear Lord, even now, when I close my eyes, I can still see a hint of Your light, Your brightness. Thank You for this experience. Thank You for the gift of an active imagination. I haven’t thought about my imagining in such a way, not for a very long time! What a sweet, gentle experience. I needed that, right now. Thank You. Thank You.  Amen, dear Lord. Amen.

@chaplaineliza

Thanks to the website www.contemplativemind.org for their excellent image the Tree of Contemplative Practices.

(Suggestion: visit me at my other blogs: www.pastorpreacherprayer.com, matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers. and  A Year of Being Kind . Thanks! )


[1] Edwards, Tilden, Living in the Presence (Harper Collins: San Francisco, 1995), 53.