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The Importance of Story

Dave felt very vulnerable at being asked to put his personal feelings on paper.

He was attending a workshop in his local church run by members of the New Way team. The team had introduced an exercise called THE TREE. Each person had to draw their own tree. The roots represented the past, the trunk the present and the leaves the future. These were the parts they had to fill in. Dave felt a bit self-conscious but decided to have a go.

Later Dave wrote that he found the exercise easier than he thought. He became absorbed in noting down people who had formed his past, happenings in the present and 'the future was easier again as I could think of what and who would be important as time went on.'

'I now had my tree with lots of my feelings attached to it. This is my very own tree.' He felt good about it.

What he had not anticipated was being asked to share his 'tree' with another person. Although told he needed only share what he wanted to, his reaction was an anxious one! 'My very private past to be told to another person!' Again he wanted to disappear. If he had, he would have missed 'a magical experience'. Both the experience of being listened to and of listening to another tell her story transformed something that seemed difficult and strange into a rewarding and remarkable experience.

Listening to each other's personal stories is an important part of community building. Storytelling - an individual's personal story and the group's ongoing story - can be incorporated regularly into meetings through memory, sharing and celebration.

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