A Star to follow… By Roi
Some years ago, around this time of the year, whilst teaching storytelling at Sussex University, after a session when we discussed working with questions around our stories, I felt a strange and sudden inspiration to tell the class the seasonal story of the 3 wise men from the East who following a brilliant star came to Bethlehem.
When I finished the story, one of the young men asked: “Excuse me Roi, but do you really believe in this shit???”
For some reason I felt an inner rejoicing at this reaction. Perhaps it was the funny combination of the words excuse me and shit in one sentence, or the reminder of why I love teaching outside of ‘Emerson College bubble’ in the ‘real world’ where people use language to express strong emotions without too many anthroposophical filters…but more than these, it was rejoicing because of his daring to ask such a challenging question - and I love challenging questions.
‘Hmm’…I thought for a moment how to respond…then I found myself saying: “Before I tell you whether I believe in the facts of this story, can we look together for a moment at the images in the story, the questions they bring up in us and possible metaphors? Because regardless of whether the story is true or not, I am intrigued by the images which are so full of possibilities…”
It wasn’t long before an interesting group conversation was in full swing, with a surprising air of passion around it:
“Three wise grown up sensible men, intelligent kings, leaving their homes in the middle of the night, only to follow a star?”
“Did anything like this ever happen to any of us in the room?”
“What is guiding you, calling you forward at the moment? What motivates our sociality and which star do you follow?”
“Why would three old men bow in front of a new born baby?”
“What is the meaning of Gold and Frankincense? And what on earth is myrrh?”
“These gifts aren’t suitable for a new born baby!”
“could all these including the holy child also stand as metaphors for something else in us?”
The conversation moved around themes of spirituality, intention, intuition, guidance and truth. It felt like an important one for this group. It opened a space where people felt safe to share intimate vulnerabilities, questions and deep inner knowings.
The session finished with many unanswered questions still hanging in the air, like twinkling mysterious stars. But the student who triggered the discussion with his bold question was deeply satisfied. Not because his initial question was answered, but because he felt met and seen and enriched by the questions of his fellow students.
As all of you storytellers know, the three wise men were known as Magi, a word that came to be associated with Magic and Magicians. The old magician’s mantra ‘abracadabra’ meaning ‘I shall create as I speak’ in Hebrew and old Aramaic is a reminder for all of us of the creative (and destructive) power of speaking.
The New Year, 2016, starts with international terrorism, fear, war and insecurity dominating the world’s news. It looks like governments around the world plan to deal with this situation through increasing military and police power at home, while supporting and providing weapons to new and various groups of rebels to fight some older groups of rebels whom they previously provided weapons to, which almost guaranties this will continue for eternity rather than trying to address the uncomfortable truths behind what could be the real causes for such phenomena.
Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed. This is an ancient and eternal law. (Budha)
Killing in the name of national security, Jihad, crusade and other holy and righteous wars, whether led by governments or terrorists, are just faces of human violence. Operating from such state of mind is often accompanied by a narrow worldview, fundamentalist thinking claiming there is only one truth, one interpretation of God and the mystery, one answer and one version of the story.
But there is another way! And this is where living with open questions, looking at reality through different angles and walking the storytelling path comes in…
Be certain that in the religion of Love there are no believers and unbelievers. LOVE embraces all. (Jalaludin Rumi)
This spring, together with the wonderful Karmit Evenzur and a group of storytellers, we will continue to develop the groundbreaking work of ‘Healing Words – the creative power of the imagination’ which we started last year. This course supports finding a new way of being a storyteller in the world facing the challenges of this time with imagination, vision, courage, love and truth. Read more here: (add link here )
It is an advanced storytelling course for 14 people, by application only. There are still a few places left so if you wish to join us apply early to avoid disappointment.
I wish you all to live through this New Year aligning your words, actions and hearts with the star you wish to follow.