When an Island Tells a Story

Vashon Island Artwork
Art by Irene Otis and Chris Barnes

Story is big on my mind after performing in a remarkable project, Heart of Vashon: Telling our Story. The performance reading was one part of a community project exploring what matters to islanders about living on Vashon-Maury. Why do we choose to make our home here? What is it that makes living here special? Over 150 people responded to the call for submissions, and a script was woven together from selections and excerpts of what Islanders wrote. An intergenerational cast of readers (of which I was one) shared poems, reflections and stories that created a moving, humorous and thoughtful tapestry of Island life.

The performance was rich and fun. I was surprised at the laughter we got straight off, as islanders recognized and appreciated the trials, quirks, and beautiful things that make this place and community unique. It was fun hearing later from audience members that “my wife wrote about the pigs” or “those two lines were mine.”

Even more, it was fun to hear the knowing in the laughter, the moving words expressed by audience members in response to hearing their neighbors’ tales and thoughts, and to share in the experience of Vashon and our community in this vibrant way. Whether audience members had contributed writings or not, everyone present (as well as each islander past and present anywhere!) was part of the story. As a physical and spiritual geography, the island itself was at the heart of it.

A geography tells a story. The people who dwell within it live a story. What story of earth and culture/tribe/village speak in yours?

These questions are variations on what I asked in my previous post,  Discover the Earth of Your Story. For a chance to win a ticket to the Vashon Wilderness Program Storytelling Festival or a copy of my book, Because of the Red Fox, leave a comment here in response to anything that might come to mind and heart regarding the notion of geographical story.

Click here for full details regarding the Giveaway.

Discover the Earth of Your Story

Greetings to you, here in the heart of Winter.

With the holidays past, we settle in to the opening of the new year, and curiosity about what may arise for us in this next passage around the sun.

The heart of winter is about looking into our own hearts, plunging our hands into the earth of our past, and pausing a moment to turn toward the fire of our future — searching for a glimpse of the new story waiting to birth.

We as human beings are a Story People.

Stories of the Earth - photo
Stories from the Earth – photo art by Jane Valencia

It is in the earth of our nature that we tell stories — of our day, of our meetings and partings, of our lives, of our planet, of our dreams, our visions, our loves, and so much more. When you converse with a loved one, you are telling a story. When you chat beside vegetables at the supermarket, you are telling a story.

We share information, wisdom, perceptions, creative thought, our sorrows and our laughter by way of stories. Our stories themselves emerge, not just from our human engagements, but from the shifting of weather, the movement of the stars, the raccoon scampering across the street, from the plants we eat, and the earth that lies beneath our concrete and supports our every step, our whole lives, really.

If we consider humans to be natural storytellers, we must extend our story-making and story-weaving to include ecologies — the ecology of our human “villages” and tribes, the ecology of our local landscape, the ecology of our physical bodies, the ecology of the unseen. So much enters a story to direct a perception, shift a word, nudge a conviction into place. When we rest into our words, or into the stories our bodies tell one another in the form of gesture, movement, expression, or energetic presence, we engage with the entire universe.

New Shoot photo
New Shoot – photo by Jane Valencia

We humans aren’t the only ones telling stories. The trail of the deer across the field tells a story. The rising and setting of the sun and moon tells stories. The skinny roots of the horizontal red huckleberry grasping at the deteriorating red cedar stump tells a story. The shifting of the earth, her inhale and exhale, tell a story. We step into it, breathe into it, live into it every single day and night of our lives.

If ever you feel alone, turn to something — to anything (a rock, your laptop, the clouds, the air on your hand, the beating of your heart, the blood in your veins). Feel its story speak into you, and tell it your own. The world is a lively place. She lives around and within you, and she is listening.

How have you told stories today? How, today, has the world lived a story into you?

Muse on these questions and leave a comment here to have a chance to win a free ticket Vashon Wilderness Storytelling Festival or (if you live elsewhere than Vashon) a copy of my children’s fantasy novel, Because of the Red Fox.

Read details about the Giveaway here!


How Do *You* Wander Into Magic?

Come out my front door with me. The chickens are enjoying my over-wintered kitchen garden.

Plain Old Chickens - photo art by Jane Valencia
Plain Old Chickens – photo art by Jane Valencia

I can’t help but turn some of the soil. The Easter Egger hen, Turtle Island, focuses her keen eyes on earthworms revealed … and other goodies.

Gardening With Turtle Island - photo art by Jane Valencia
Gardening With Turtle Island – photo art by Jane Valencia

A wander into the forest led me into communion with an emerging patch of Stinging Nettle. A number of Nettle tops return home with me, to give themselves as a delicious soup to my family.

First Nettles - Photo by Jane Valencia
First Nettles – Photo by Jane Valencia

What magic do you discover just outside your door? And where does that magic lead you? What your eyes and heart discern, what your ears pick up, and the scents your nose inhales — that mix of things you notice is unique to you. If you were to jot down what you notice with all your senses, and what memories and thoughts and emotions spring into your mind and heart, you would have a Map of You, a sketch of the terrain of your soul.

Go outside — or stay inside if you prefer. Look and listen. Feel and discern. The world is far more layered, far more personal than we imagine.

If you wish, please share a little about what you notice right now. If you feel brave or curious to do so, I invite you to make some guesses as to what of your inner ecology is revealed.

Happy journeys!