The Storyteller role in our classroom seems clear cut. There is a book with the ritual we use to open our class. The book contains the story. The Storyteller leads the class through the ritual and the story and dismisses children to their work.
But this role done well is an invitation into a different world. A good story draws you in so that for a moment, the story is your story, the message is spoken right into your soul. The telling is so important. We are working with our stories this year so that the content is rich and ripe, but that is only the very beginning. To be an invitation that draws one into the moment, we must take care to tell it with reverence and fascination. The story is an opening to bring us all on a journey together.
If we peek inside the story(teller) we might witness this: I sit with the story in the days before class. I wonder about it. I live the story. I become the story. By Sunday I do not need the book. I am the book. Within me is the story that is every story. It is my story and it is yours.
Our first story is always the story of our opening ritual. It is the welcome and the greeting we sing to one another. It is the meeting of the eyes as we share a peace greeting, “I see your beauty. I hear your needs. I honor the wisdom in you”. This is a story we share. This is our story of Spirit Play. This is the story of the spiritual life.
And then begins the story of the week. Our ritual has gathered us into a community of safety and love. Now we are ready to journey together into a new time and space. We are ready to encounter ourselves and wonder about what is mysterious and scary and surprising. A box or a basket containing our manipulatives comes off the shelf. It is time. We begin with wonder…What is in here? What could this be? I handle our props as if they are the most fascinating treasures. I dissolve into the telling of the tale. I am a mirror. I am an invitation. I am the story. I am each character. I am the scene. I am the dramatic pause. On a good story day, I do not make eye contact during the telling. All my attention is focused on the story itself leaving the children to draw close and see themselves and see for themselves. We lose ourselves together as we move along the narrative.
When the story is done, we pause and come back into the room. I emerge from the character, from the role and sit with these children as a curious fellow explorer. What have we seen in this story? We wonder together. These stories are metaphors and symbols. These stories are myths and dreams. These stories are illustrations of human life and meaning. They are a microcosm of the whole. The experience of the story and the questions that follow are designed to bring us further on this journey of discovery. What part of the story do you like best? What part is most important? Who or what would you be if you were in this story? Is there any part of this story we could leave out and still have everything we need?
And the story moves on after the telling and is playfully processed through art, through puppets, through sand and exploration. We become the story. The story becomes our play. The story becomes a teacher and we take it with us in our hearts and hold it and turn it and look for it’s treasure. If we take the time, we see ourselves there and know ourselves. That awareness gives rise to our continued growth into people of integrity, a community of joy, and a life of service. We bring our story to this story. We hear this story and create a new ending, a meme, a backstory, a story within a story. Our class creates a new story every week by our presence with one another. We are transformed and that changes the world every week. Create this story with us. Let’s write in Love and Life and Joy.