A Story for the New Year, 2019
Updated: May 31, 2019
Upload on 9/1/2019
Dear friends and story lovers, Epic New Year! Reflecting on how the story of the year 2018 unfolded for this world, I am left, like many others, with some uneasy feelings. As humanity, we carry forward into the New Year yet again too many unresolved, messy, crisis situations. It seems that we have failed so far to unite as a specie around a common vision for how to change our story, and that on many levels we are still struggling to find language we can agree on, to guide us forward. As T.S. Eliot writes: “For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice.”*
Thinking about our collective challenges in 2019, I remembered this old Jewish story : I am sure you all know that every animal in our world choses its favourite shade and is very particular about its specific resting spot, and it is the same with all of the birds who each has its preferred branch and unique tree, on which it likes to sit. Well, the story tells that once there was a group of people debating whether it was possible to find anywhere in the world a tree, in whose shade all the animals in this world would rest peacefully alongside each other, sharing the tree with all the birds and flying creatures of this world who would choose to sit in its branches and sing in harmony together. “Just think of the joy and richness of such a tree”, the people kept saying to each other, “with none of them threatening or injuring one another…each creature shining their uniqueness and all of them playing together. What if we too could join them in such a magnificent place…?” They decided that such a tree must exist somewhere, and felt a longing to go and find that place at once. But, alas my friends, in no time they started arguing about the right direction they would have to go to reach this tree. They argued and argued, but could not come to a decision. One said they should go north, another said to the south, ”No! To the east” said another, and of course, how annoying, there was also the one who suggested they should go only west… Ooof…they were unable to come to an agreement! Just then, a wise man happened to pass by, and hearing them he said: "You arguing about which direction to go in? If you insist on arguing you better be arguing about which of you will be able to actually go to this tree. Because you must know, that not everyone is able to reach such a tree, only those who have the specific qualities of that tree can find it. Know my friends, that the tree has three roots: the first is Faith, the second is Reverence, and the third is Humility, and that the trunk of the tree is Truth, from which grow all the other branches. It is only possible for you to come to the tree if you have all these essential qualities." Hearing this, they realized that indeed not many of them were able to go to the tree, and the few of them who did have all the necessary qualities, chose not to leave the others behind. So they agreed they did not want to be separated from each other, and united in the decision to wait while those who were lacking some of the necessary qualities would work on themselves, to develop all the qualities needed. Then they could all go to the tree together! And that is what they did. All of them struggled and worked hard until they were all on the same level. And when they had all reached that level, they also learned that they were all in agreement as to which direction they had to go in to get to the tree, and they began walking trogether in that direction…
The story (which is my retelling of a part of a much longer story of The Seven Beggars from Rabbi Nachman of Bratsluv**) goes on to tell that when the group finally saw the tree from a distance, they realized it does not grow in space as they know it but that it is placed beyond and above our space, on yet again another level, which kept this tree of life still beyond their reach. Some more help was needed to get there. It comes from a hunchbacked beggar carrying the sins and sorrows of this world on his back who invites them to take the leap to that level from his hump… The story above, even though it shows us that Utopia is impossible to reach, also tells us that it is important to keep striving for it and that through this process, development is possible! The people may have not reached the tree but they have managed to agree on a direction and to journey together without leaving anyone behind. The story hints at the root level of the personal qualities and the process it takes to bring about the social coherence needed for the journey. It is 2019! And so where do we go from here storytellers? With some new storytelling adventures programmed for this year, would you like to join me and share some time together, to carefully study the trunk of the tree – Truth - and nurture the roots of Faith, Reverence, Humility…and Humanity through stories new and old? Have a look at the upcoming courses https://www.roigalor.com/ With warmest blessings for the New Year. Roi Gal-Or * ― T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets ** Rabbi Nahman of Bratzlav (1772-1810), a great Hasidic master and storyteller.