Getting the Story

Three small stories about stories

Every Sunday, he is the first student to arrive for class. He seems quiet and disconnected. He doesn’t like the songs we sing. He doesn’t say hello to me.

But I ask him about his bike, and he lights up to tell me about the places he rode, the races he won, the jumps he’s conquered.

I love his seven-year-old tales of glory, his sudden brightness and hand movements. I love that this is our ritual every week, and that every week the stories get bigger and bigger.

Sometimes getting the story is about asking the right question.

We are split up into groups of three, and I notice an elderly couple all by themselves. I pull up a chair and introduce myself. The prompt question is about a time of valuable learning in our lives. I’m worried this exercise of group sharing might be too hokey for them, too out of their comfort zone.

But they tell me incredible stories about their marriage, raising their children. They tell me about sudden devastating illness and quitting smoking cold-turkey together, as a couple. They tell me about gaining wisdom and sticking together.

I soak it all up, and I don’t even get a word in edgewise.

Sometimes getting the story is about listening more than speaking.

For the first few months, she won’t even return my phone calls. I know she’s been hurt before, and I need to earn her trust. I’m nervous about approaching her, but eventually we end up at lunch together, across a table of BLTs.

She knows everyone in the diner, greets them with hugs and laughs. We talk, of course, about the program we run together, but also about everything else: how she likes her coffee, her favorite neighborhood haunts, her health and relationships.

I get the honor of hearing the story of those past hurts, and I’m moved. I feel the powerful of kinship spread between us like warm sunshine, and her story becomes my story because I understand. And then we are two.

Sometimes getting the story is about waiting until you’re invited.

Friends, have you noticed how many people are incredible storytellers? I keep finding them everywhere! What have you learned about getting the story?

Don’t forget to hop on over to Emily’s this week and meet some other storytellers.

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3 Comments

Filed under Musings

3 responses to “Getting the Story

  1. friend, how i would LOVE to sit across from you at a coffeeshop and hear your story. so, so good, the way you listen and write and live.

  2. Hearing the stories of the people around me have been some of the most moving moments of my life. I’ve also experienced these methods you named of “getting the story.” Another one for me is, “Sometimes getting the story is about being present rather than being lost in one’s own story.” Thank you very much for sharing.

    • Marilyn, I’d love to hear some of the stories that have moved you! And I really appreciate your addition — how easy it is to actually miss others’ stories because we’re caught up in our own. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

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