Healing through Storytelling
By Paula Schneider

I know this sounds like an unusual technique to use for healing—storytelling—but I am becoming more and more convinced that a special way of approaching storytelling that I will detail in this article can be very useful in getting to know ourselves and make positive changes in our lives.

A book that has opened my eyes to deep ideas is A Hidden Wholeness by Parker J. Palmer. In his very rich book, Parker offers a technique for healing that is called Circles of Trust. To greatly simplify this method, a circle of acquaintances agrees to meet regularly to read stories (one story per meeting) and to individually dissect the story to determine its deeper symbology and meaning for each person’s life. Circles of Trust can be found on multiple sites on the Internet, if your interest leads you to further exploration.

A few years ago, my husband found a book in the local library entitled, Schlomo’s Stories. These are stories told by a Rabbi in the 1960’s and early 70’s in the San Francisco Bay area. They were so popular that he supposedly had quite a following. My husband and I have been reading the stories as part of our morning contemplation time and I have to say, they are very powerful! We always come away with fresh new ideas about our relationships with ourselves and others.

Storytelling is such a powerful, and fun, way to learn about our world and how we relate to it. It is important, however, that when we hear or read a story we begin to look at the deep meanings of the characters and the symbols embedded in the story. I recently watched a wonderful movie (movies are a different form of storytelling), “I Am David,” and picked up some deep symbolism in that movie. David was in a concentration camp in Eastern Europe in WWII as a very young boy. While there, he was instructed by his friends to escape to a Scandinavian country, so he followed that advice and began his journey. Along the way, two women were of great help to him—Sophia and Mary. The name, Sophia, is a symbol for wisdom and Mary is a symbol for love. This beautiful story is, I believe, symbolic of some of the journeys we take and paying attention to our helpers along the way is essential.

Our Thursday noon group loves to explore the deep, symbolic meanings of the words found in Bible stories and parables. It is wonderful to watch them bloom. Additionally, when we visit Unity of Santa Rosa, we always meet with a group of committed symbolic interpretation devotees, and we encouraged to go deeper with our studies. I believe as we search for the meaning of our lives, we can heal old wounds and work on cleaning up problems in our relationships that can possibly result in spiritual pain now and at life’s end. How nice to begin new ways of perceiving and relating now instead of waiting until it’s too late!