this morning at Belair I told the story of God calling Samuel for the first time. I didn't spend a lot of time preparing this one, so I in some ways I am still sitting with questions I usually work through before I do a telling.
the main one is regarding Eli. in this story, Samuel hears God calling to him, but not knowing God or having heard God's voice before, he doesn't recognise it as God. So he assumes it is the near-blind priest Eli calling him, and each time he runs to Eli's side - 'Here I am, for you called me.'
Eli responds - 'I did not call, return to bed and lie down.' I haven't quite worked out how much characterisation I want to put into this - you could go over the top and yawn, and do an old man's voice ... as a general rule, I tend not to act too much because the difference between storytellers and actors is that storytellers take on the role of the narrator, actors take on the role of the character.
So I want to sit with that a bit more.
And there's another question about the telling of this story I am yet to resolve - how to tell Samuel's response to God when he has been guided by Eli. Is he a little timid? Does he hesitate? This morning I told it with a hint of 'I'm trying to remember what Eli said to say and get it right because this is God talking to me'. On reflection, I like that. But I still want to sit with this story some more.
As to why I didn't prepare it so much - I decided late to tell it, and it was one I knew from learning Hebrew, as we translated this passage, so the words were inside already. This is an interesting question for the future, I imagine, as I build up the stories I know - the balance between laziness and trust that I have the stories within and can tell them without needing hours of rehearsal ...