Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Storytelling Part 2

Ah, it's good to be back home.  It's good to be facing the blank electronic page.  A lot of people share with me how they would like me to write, what they'd like to see, etc.  I don't mind, I even enjoy some of their suggestions.  But I have to find my own way through the forest.

I was remembering Arthur Kennedy.  This may or may not be his real name.  I only knew him in the third grade when he arrived at our school; later he had moved away.  Arthur would today be labeled hyperactive, I'm guessing.  Many of us felt relief when he was no longer with us.  I'm sorry I have no idea what happened to him.  But my remembrance of little Arthur is associated with the beginning of storytelling in my class.  My class of about 25 then, which remained together all the way from Kindergarten through senior year, adding another 15 or so when school districts merged.

Somewhere near the beginning of third grade we students were encouraged to come to the front of the class and tell a story.  It's interesting that I have accessible memories of storytelling at Arthur's time and later, which was my time, in the fifth grade, but nothing in between.

Arthur was crazy about telling stories; he practically ran to the front of the class.  "I went out behind my house last night after supper, and this Nazi jumped me from behind a tree!"  He put a lot of expression into this, jumping up and down.  But already Mrs. Palat was on him,  "Arthur, no, no, no!  You stop right there young man.  The Germans are our friends now, Arthur.  You sit down right now and tonight, for your homework, think of a better story."

Poor Art.  The next day he tried again.  "Saturday after breakfast I was out walking behind Mrs. Kelly's when I saw this JAP hiding behind her fence, getting ready to JUMP ME!!!"

"Arthur, this is ridiculous!" screamed Mrs. Palat.  "The war is OVER, Arthur.  The Japanese people are our FRIENDS!  Now you sit yourself right down again until you can think of a better story."  If he ever did, I don't remember.

It was 1954 and Joe McCarthy was making up stories like a madman, spotting communists under every bush, getting ready to jump us.  The Russians had exploded the hydrogen bomb.  We needed the Japs and the Nazis to be our friends.

Skipping ahead to the fifth grade, I remember Joey and I telling stories in front of the class quite often.  If I remember right, we had kind of a competition.  I only clearly remember my last story, the one I could never quite finish, about a boy walking a great wide white road, could have been limestone blocks.  It took place in Egypt among the pyramids, and the boy held a magic wand which could do whatever he wished it to do.  Some of the other kids used to occasionally ask me, whatever happened in that story?  The story went underground.

Now at this point someone should ask, "Alex, what was going on in your life then?  That your wonderful storytelling ability became wounded?"  And if it were the right person asking, and the right time, I would go along with that.  But for me, now, at this time in my life, that feels rather boring.  I've told those stories; they're old stories.  And, even if I am denying something, perhaps the reader will indulge me.  Because I would rather think of the magic wand.  Because every child has one.  It works for a long time, but it gets battered, bent, and finally broken. 

It is a magic wand that heals.  It gives people a "cubic centimeter of chance" to tell a truth, a truth which sets them free.  It's a part of the package of "becoming again as a little child" in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven again -- this time with a more conscious mind than before.

A beautiful woman told me a story of her childhood innocence and how it helped heal her father, who was suffering from a rare nervous disorder from which he was trying to heal himself.  He was a minister and a believer in faith healing, not because he distrusted doctors or modern medicine -- in fact, he had at one time begun studying to become a doctor himself.  But doctors could give him no clear diagnosis for his ailment, which had left him almost paralyzed for a time.  It may have been food poisoning which caused it.  No one knows for sure.  But the man knew he had to heal himself, this time.  "Physician, heal thyself."  And he had been a physician of the ministry, a preacher of the Bible and of revelations he had received, he felt, directly from the Heavenly Host.

It was a long recovery, lasting a period of several months.  The illness had begun on a trip far from home, and his family was warned that he would be quite different when he was able to finally return home.   When he did return, he told his wife and children, "You have to help me walk every day, and every day I must walk a few steps farther.  If I do not do this I will die."

One evening after supper  he walked with his youngest daughter, and he could not help sharing a few of his gloomy thoughts and fears. "But Tinkerbelle and Tina Maria, they're still o.k., aren't they Daddy?"  asked the child brightly.  The man looked up from the ground to see where his child was looking, and he saw instantly that she had a relationship with two stars overhead, that indeed she had a friendship with these two stars.

"Yes, yes, of course they are alright, my dear."  And his heart was greatly relieved, and he knew he would be better.  And in time, he became totally healed of his illness. 

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