Bridge Over Story River

by Pam England

“All that we are is story. From the moment we are born to the time we continue on our spirit journey, we are involved in the creation of the story of our time here. It is what we arrive with. It is all we leave behind. We are not the things we accumulate. We are not the things we deem important. We are story. All of us. What comes to matter then is the creation of the best possible story we can while we’re here; you, me, us, together. When we can do that and we take the time to share those stories with each other, we get bigger inside, we see each other, we recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time…” 

—Richard Wagamese, Medicine Walk

The coherent wisdom and vision of story and story-sharing expressed by Ojibwa author, Richard Wagamese, captures what I think of as the mission of Birth Story Medicine. I am drawn to read this eloquent passage over and over because it is like a clear water river running through my being and the stories I am hearing.

When envisioning stories without a beginning or end, we don’t limit our capacity for the far-seeing of a birth story. Sometimes I say a birth story has a long tail that reaches back to our first impressions of birth in our culture as a child, or even further back to family legend of grandparents’ births. Stories of the day we labor and give birth (or are born) cannot be separated from the fabric of all the stories we have lived any more than we could see the whole cloth of a woven garment by isolating and examining one loop of thread.

Birth Story Medicine mentors don’t passively listen to birth stories. The storyteller brings a story, an old version of an important story that doesn’t quite fit anymore. Together we enter a temenos, a circumscribed space, a hour, in which we share an agreement that by the end of our hour together, the story they brought will not be the story they take with them.

When we sit with a storyteller, it’s like we are sitting on a bridge over gently moving Infinite Story River, a river flowing unceasingly from a bygone ocean toward an ocean of potential. For the most part, what we hear and see from the bridge is the past story swirling toward and beneath the bridge. But a Magician story-listener sees beyond the past story and takes in what is up and down river.

When storyteller and story-listener are not attached to preserving a lived story, then stories can evolve. In making time for a Birth Story Medicine session, It is time for the old story to symbolically be buried in the “dead story” cemetery. It is time for a change of heart, for change to come into the storyteller; a new story is needed for a newly emerging self.

The birth of a new version of a story heralds the rebirth of the storyteller. The potential is unlimited.

In our sessions, it is not the story we are healing. Storyteller and story-listener are in rapport with a shared intention to “get bigger inside, to see each other, to recognize our kinship – we change the world, one story at a time…”

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