Just this week, I started taking a course through the Therapeutic Writing Institute. I signed up about a month ago and made note of the start date in my little paper planner that so many of my friends mock given the age of electronic everything. The start date was Monday, June 26. This has been a hard week, but I think the universe was setting me up for support in a crucial time.
Last night, I finally got around to reading the first assignment for this course — the first two chapters of Christina Baldwin’s Storycatcher: Making Sense of Our Lives Through the Power and Practice of Story.
I became a Christina Baldwin fan earlier this year when I attended an evening gathering/workshop at which she discussed the power of story and writing. She got me journalling again. I then went to a weekend workshop in Round Top that she led through Storycircle Network and fell deeper in love with her manner and sensibility. I took this photo with her at the workshop. So when I saw that she was teaching a class this summer that I could take, I signed up.
Already, with the first assignment, I’m in love with her book and feel much gratitude for her writing. In Chapter 1, she tells a story so beautiful that I’m going to quote her at length:
“I have read the story of a tribe in southern Africa called the Babemba in which a person doing something wrong, something that destroys this delicate social net, brings all work in the village to a halt. The people gather around the ‘offender,’ and one by one they begin to recite everything he has done right in his life: every good deed, thoughtful behavior, act of social responsibility. These things have to be true about the person, and spoken honestly, but the time honored consequence of misbehavior is to appreciate the person back into the better part of himself. The person is given the chance to remember who he is and why he is important to the life of the village.
I want to live under such a practice of compassion. When I forget my place, when I lash out with some private wounding in a public way, I want to be remembered back into alignment with myself and my purpose. I want to live with the opportunity for reconciliation. When someone around me is thoughtless or cruel, I want to be given the chance to respond with a ritual that creates the possibility of reconnection.”
Amen, Christina. I do want to be remembered back into alignment with myself and my purpose, and I do want a chance to respond to thoughtlessness and cruelty with a ritual that creates the possibility of reconnection. Rifts hurt. When they happen, I crave the opportunity to heal and be healed and to return to a place where we remember who we are and why we are important to one another. I don’t know how to do that right now, but I want to spend the next week or two or three with this story in my head, and I hope it will guide my actions.
I thank the Babemba – and Christina – for this story.