I love hearing the personal stories of the members of our community, no matter if it is my local church community or the surrounding community. They are often rich with meaning and poignant, and sometimes evocative. I always come away from the storytelling with a deeper sense of understanding of how important this community is to me. It gives me the sustenance to carry on and do whatever I can to create more bonds between all the members of our community.
I have found that good story telling skills have helped me in many of my personal and professional interactions. People come up to me all the time and say how a personal story in one of my books or a story that I told in a public speaking event – really resonated with them. One man heard my story about kayaking down the Patapsco to the Inner Harbor with six UUCC friends and he went out the next day and bought a kayak. A woman told me last week that she quit her job after I described how much work we all should be doing to get back into balance with the natural world. I wish all my stories could be that effective.
We all could be better at communicating via personal stories. Leigh Tillman, a professional storyteller, trainer, and facilitator, has seen first-hand the power of personal stories in building community. Leigh says, “At the very essence of our lives, there are stories. We are sharing them with one another every day. These stories foster connection, put us in touch with our humanness, and compel us to act.”
Today more than ever, I want to hear the stories of all members of our community. Personal stories of community members can weave a rich tapestry that reflects us and help us better understand our nature, depth, and complexity. Hearing personal stories can give us a greater appreciation of ourselves, our neighbors, and our community.
UUCC is cosponsoring two events in March, 2017 that focus on storytelling, both facilitated by Leigh Tillman: a March 24th “storytelling evening,” featuring twelve skilled storytellers from the community; and a March 25th “storytelling workshop,” where you can learn to hone your own personal story. My hope is that through making the space to hear and share our personal stories, our understanding of our community’s larger story will be enriched and our curiosity will be piqued to learn more of one another’s tales.
Ned Tillman is a long time UUCC member, and a founding Board member of the Howard County Conservancy, which is co-sponsoring the events mentioned here. Leigh Tillman is a professional storyteller, trainer, and facilitator, and a graduate of UUCC’s Religious Education program.
Ned Tillman, photo courtesy of the author