Lent Project Day 26: Telling your story

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood. A close-up of a typewriter. The ribbon sits below a line of text on a page. On the paper are the words Stories matter.

Yesterday (March 20) was the World Storytelling day, which celebrates the tradition of oral storytelling. Remember how great it was when you introduced a child to a story that became their favourite. In some cases (lookin’ at you Where the Wild Things Are), you, the reader, recited them so often that you learned then. I’ve been really excited that the last few baby showers that I attended asked the invited women to bring a storybook or two to help create a library for wee baby. I mean, sure, literacy is great, and instilling a love of reading early will not go without benefits later on. But wee babes don’t read. They don’t even understand the words. They just listen, transfixed by the sound of a voice.

And many stories started with an oral tradition and went on to be gathered and written and shared. Stories passed through the hands (and mouths) of many generations of families and villages and cultures.

When Child was… well, a child, we didn’t have qualms about taking him out of school for vacations .He was a strong student, and we felt (and feel) like education didn’t just happen in a classroom. That said, he had projects to do to make up for the time he was away. When he had blown through all the reading primers for his grade in the first 26 minutes of the year, we worked with his teacher to give him more challenging literacy work to do. When we were planning a trip to Walt Disney World, we got him to read the original stories of the Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling), Pinocchio (Carlo Collodi), and the Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss). Then we let him watch the movies and compare the book to the movie (And the way the story is portrayed in the Disney Parks). It was a fun project that didn’t feel as much like work as it could have. The point was that the story seemed to change for the audience.

There’s a concerted effort right now for people to tell their stories. Between Truth and Reconciliation, Me Too, Black Lives Matter,  and BIPOC, many people have been rocked back on their heels by what other people’s stories sounded like, when we finally got around to listening. It’s not like the stories weren’t there before. It’s just that they aren’t hidden away anymore. And that’s a good thing, because when we know better, we do better. 

It’s easy to think that you know someone else’s story. It’s easy to not know what you don’t know, too. It’s very smart to accept that you likely don’t have the whole story, and not be an ass about it. Or this happens:  Rugby Star Demolishes Columnist After She Mocks Him For Using Sign Language. Sure, she didn’t know it was sign language, but if it’s not about you, then maybe don’t presume to know. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Ms. Devine went on, days later, to complain about how badly *she* was treated. Poor poutyface!

This Lent, when it’s not about me, give me the good grace to not make it about me. But when it is, let me tell my story with humility and grace.

Extra Credit:

I’ve created landing pages for the last 2 years of Lent Project. You can access them from the Reflections Projects option in the menu bar. Happy reading, friends!

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