The participants did well to get up early on a Saturday, but were supported in their efforts to wake up with coffee and tea, and yummy morning tea.
Our opening worship time invited us to bring our passion, our storytelling gifts, ourselves to this community for a day, making a beautiful bouquet as individual flowers do in a vase.
Andrew McDonough led us in some reflections on the dangerous side of stories before lunch. In the struggle to bring about the reign of God, Jesus models a subversive strategy, as opposed to a warrior who will overturn unjust empires. The subversive way of Jesus is the way of Story, planting stories in the hearts of listeners that will weave their way into the fabric of their lives, transforming those with ears to hear with the Spirit of love, justice, peace.
On a wintry day, soup and rolls warmed our bodies, and filled our tummies, before the afternoon workshops.
I was in the one on Godly Play, led by Jennifer Pickard. I'm still processing my response to the different approach of Godly Play to storytelling. In Godly Play, you have figures representing elements and characters in the story, which you move around on a mat or a tray of sand as you tell the story. While you're doing this, you do not look up from the story, do not engage the listeners with eye contact. The reason I love storytelling is that it frees you from the written text of the Bible to be able to meet the eyes of the listeners, communicating a story you have lived with and internalised, communicating meaning from your heart to theirs. So while I see the purpose of no eye contact for the Godly Play method of telling stories, it still sits awkwardly for me.
Meanwhile Gillian Powis was leading a workshop introducing the biblical storytelling method.
Then while Catie Morrison led a workshop on reflecting on the process of storytelling, I led one on reading the Bible aloud. I had a splitting headache all day, so I'm not sure how effectively I led the workshop, but we had some good conversations about our experiences of reading aloud in worship settings, and thought through some of the processes that can help us prepare our heart, mind and body for communicating the Sacred Story. We wondered about emotion - and how much we allow ourselves to feel emotion as we read the story aloud, or whether it is more helpful to allow the story to move us deeply as we prepare, but to feel the emotion only as much as will help us to effectively communicate the emotion, will invite the listeners to engage with the story and allow it to move them. Because if we are too visibly moved by a story, we get in the way of the story, and become a distraction. There were other elements we talked about, too.
Overall the day seemed to go well, the participants seemed mostly to appreciate what was being offered by the facilitators, and we may have begun to gather some momentum and support for the national gathering being held in Adelaide in 2010.