Friday, May 21, 2010

My storytelling, Paschal, May 21, 2010

I cannot believe the fun, enthusiasm and excitement I am having as I approach my 81st birthday. Yesterday, at Liberty elementary, I told folk fairy taels to four classes, some 100 first grades. The librarians took our picture, which I will post here when get some help from son Griff. I was also able to attend a KPA workshop in Louisville today, Narrative storyteling to Facilitate Attachment, by Myra Lawrence, an exceptional teacher and clinician from Argosy University of Chicago

Was able to promote my passion of Spellbinder storyteliing as an encore career for some 30 psychologists and challenge them to start their own Louisville chapter, by bragging on what Lexington was doing and passing out Spellbinder brochures.

Dr. Lawrence was very experienced clinical and an excellent teacher. KPA should be congratulated in bringing this kind of talent to Kentucky. Really great insights and handouts. She demonstrated what storytelling does for children. More on this,,, hopefully later. Luckily we missed the storms driving both ways. Janette was gracious to drive me. Class was fortunately held on the U of L Shelby campus this side of Louisville.

I am incredibly lucky at this time in my life. Got in another 24 laps swimming at the North Y yesterday after my storyteling. I cannot believe the fun I am having. Yesterday, 51 years ago, I was ordained to the Catholic priesthood. Faith itself is my greatest blessing. Faith changes everything. I have a new Open “Letter to Thinking Catholics” being written for the National catholic Reporter, with the goal of sending it next week.

Paschal Baute, Noblesse Oblige

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Visitation at Shaker Village: Angel or?

A Visitation at Shaker Village.

It happened about ten years ago now. My wife and I were visiting Shaker town with friends. We had left the restaurant and headed toward the Gift Shop to the right. I decided I would ret in the shade on an August day with a breeze of September in the air. There was a bench no longer there and a tree. I would wait while my friends visited the Gift Shop[.

Suddenly to my right a few feet away appeared a little girl, age I would guess about five, dark hair, dark eyes. She looked at me and announced: “I can walk in a circle!” Surprised I decided to play a teasing game with her. “On, no,” I replied, “You can’t walk in a CIRCLE. “Yes I can!”” she replied. “No, You are too little!” I continued. “But I can,” she insisted. “No, you can’t,” I said, “You are not old enough.” “Yes. I can,” she insisted.

Finally, I said, “Show me.” to my surprise once more, she raised herself to her full height, looked me in the eye and said: “Why should I?”

Oh God, I said to myself, I am in the presence of the Eternal Feminine. After my teasing her, here she was, teasing me back. How utterly delightful After a moment I said “Pulease?”

She proceeded to walk in a circle. By this time we had been together for several minutes and I wondered where her parents were, possibly looking out a window of the restaurant we were next to, but no sign of them. I of course, with nothing else to do and this precious little girl willing to entertain me, decided to continue the playful teasing. I bet you can’t walk in a square. Yes I can. No you can’t. Yes I can. We went through the whole rigamarole again. When finally I said Show me. She said Why should I, I said Please. So she showed me.

Next we went to a triangle with the whole similar teasing dialogue once more. Again, after my teasing here, I had to beg her to show me. My geometry was exhausted.

As we finished our third round of play, my wife and friends came out of the Gift Shop and indicated to me they were ready to continue their walk to see the Village. “I have to go now,” I said to my little mistress, reluctantly, as I had enjoyed the experience at least as much as she, maybe more.

“No!” she shouted. And then repeated “NO, you can’t leave.!”We had both become entranced with the little game we were playing .

What was I to do? I had guests. Where were the parents of this precious little girl? In hindsight, I wish I had offered to take her to them or to meet them. Feeling pulled from both sides, I thought of a way to leave her with something else to do with her imagination?

“Do you believe in angels?” I asked my little angel.

“Yes,” she responded, without delay. “Then come here and sit on this bench and I will tell you a secred. “If you sit here and sit very quietly you can hear the angels sing.” By the way, angels are a part of my own belief system since Catholic grade school.

She readily complied, sat on the bench ansd closed her eyes. Reluctantly I turned to join my friends. Turning back to glance over my shoulder, I saw her sitting quietly on the bench with her eyes closed, in some listening repose. I never saw her again.

I was so impressed with this experience I talked about it and even wrote about it. I cannot now find that writing. I have a vague memory that her name was “Ariel,” but I do not remember her telling me that.

I have wondered since what she remembered of our playful exchange, that one day when an aging balding man was entertained by a little angel. At the end I thought to introduce her to the angels, not realizing I had just perhaps been visited by one.

My wife told me later than she would not have believed my story, except that she saw the little girl. For me, it was a visitation, unexpected, serendipitously, a mysterious exchange on a late summer day with old man willing to be present to the moment of whatever with a like minded child.

To this day, I wonder where her parents were, or if she had any parents. I wish I had taken her to her parents and praised her smartness. I am sure she was and is gifted wherever she is. I can easily imagine her delighting many others with her “tricks.”

That visitation to me may help explain why I am in love with my encore career of Spellbinder storytelling in Lexington, now in my 5th year . I love being with children and telling stories.

Paschal Baute
Lexington Spellbinder
(858) 19305302

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Truth and Story, a journey of partnering.

Truth and Story. A happy marriage.

Truth went around the world seeking acceptance and welcome. But everyone ran and hid from truth. They were scared of him. He was naked. So few ever glimpsed or knew Truth

The one day, Truth saw a lovely woman attractively dressed down the road talking with a circle of friends. He was astonished. He approached her and asked: “what is your name?

My name is Story, she said. Looking him up and down, she said, I could dress you and we could go together. Truth liked the idea very much and so they did.

Their marriage lasted for a thousand years. Then one day, as if from a dream, Truth woke up. I am just realizing that humans are using our stories to elevate themselves over other humans and to divide the human race. I am mortified to be used that way. Truth wanted to be used well for good purposes.
O e might say Truth was having a mid life crisis.

Story disagreed. That is not our problem, she proclaimed, We are not responsible for how humans use us, And so they argued and argued tremendously. Truth would thunder and Story would strike. They argued long and hard, so long, you can still hear them in the thunder and lightning that precede rain.

Finally, they compromised. We will tell only those stories that cannot be used for selfish purpose they agreed. Andso they told only stories about the Power of Love.

Until one day Truth exclaimed Why humans are still using our stories of love to one up each other. Some humans say their stories have more love than that of other tribes. Both Truth and Story decided to stop, as they were by now both old and tired.

What shall we do with our Golden years, they asked each other. Why not tell stories to Children, fairy folk tales and hope we can touch children with the power of imagination, delight and courage.

And so they did and they were both very happy, delighting many children with their art and craft, wonder and awe of the mystery and magic in storytelling.

Now this is not the end of he story but the beginning....

Monday, May 10, 2010

Are We Hardwired for Storytellling and for Believing?

Are We Hardwired for Storytelling and for Believing? Draft 3.0

I have come to believe that we are hardwired both or storytelling and for believing. Here is why.

The earliest record of human storytelling is found in the ceremonial burial sites where tools and weapon were placed with human remains. Early humans began to believe that death , so quick and common, was not final but a stepping stone to another After World, where such implements would be needed.

As myth and story grew and developed, those individuals and tribes who had the better stories had a “leg up in the struggle for survival. That warrior or tribe who went into combat believing in the superiority of its belief had the edge.

Myth making and storytelling became critical not only to survival against all odds but in the development of tribal culture that nurtured a sense of identity and tradition. If our forefather were braver, then we would also be braver. Practices became rules and a tribal culture developed that nurtured the young.

Generically, humans needed myth, story and belief in order to survive, but also to develop the cultural story that promised survival and success. Over coming the monster and Rags to Riches stories are the most common among all ancient cultures. These stories, curiously enough, are the ones that children today still crave and ask for.

As the practice of myth making and story tellings developed, those tribes with the best stories tended to prevail. Storytellers became the original shamans, best imaginers of how we can and will cope and conquer. Storytellers were the original culture creating agents of primitive society, shaping and inspiring human endeavor.

Those tribes believing the gods were with THEM had the advantage going into battle against rival tribes. . Maybe it was whose god-stories were the most powerful, the most inspiring. That body of scripture known by Christians s the Old Testament and by Hebrews as the Torah helped that small and insignificant tribe not only survive against all odds but prevail in the ancient world against great empires.

Can we not conclude that genetically we are programmed to find and follow those stories that nourish the heart, give hope, and offer sustenance for surviving against odds?

If you do not believe we humans are not programed, hardwired for certain stories, then you have never asked a primary grade whether they want to hear a story about a monster. They not only want a monster, they want a big monster, actually one big enough to stretch their imagination and even scare them a little This phenomenon is so universal, it must be genetic, the result of millions of years of overcoming numerous “monsters” threatening survival. .

Do not our hearts look for hope, love with a story promising adventure and reward? We want to believe. We need to believe. Research shows we are happier and healthier when we have a belief system supporting love, trusting and gratitude. Measurably so (Emmons, Thanks..)and

The history of Western civilization seems to prove this point. Those cultures, Greek, Roman, Hebrew which had the great stories were the ones which have and continue to influence the West.

Our lives have no meaning without story. Who are we? Why are we here? What is it all about? Can we find love? What shall I do with this one great gift that is my life, my existence?

We cannot live without story, without belief of some sort. Certainly we will not survive unless our stories help us cope with the setbacks to our hopes and dreams, the dark forces around and within us? Belief itself, as much as story is necessary for us to find hope and love, reason to not give up, to see the glass as half full. The tragedy of suicide is the failure of belief and story.

Consider only briefly those stories that have nurtured our society, those of the the Hebrews, the English, and our American origins. Consider the story catchers: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln.

We are hardwired, I propose, for story and belief.

These stories were and still are only our beginnings.
So... have you found your own story yet? That heart song that whispers to your soul: yes, you can, Yes, you will, Yes to love and courage, and to forgiveness?

Ah. Maybe some of the adventure still awaits you!


Emmons, R. A. Thanks. Houghton Mifflin, 2007