When I was a child growing up in upstate New York, my parents and I would take a walk around the woods surrounding the local reservoir on weekends. My mother delighted in showing me the touch-me—not, a plant with seed pods that, when ripe, await being touched and then burst open with great energy, propelling the seeds to new, fertile soil.
That is what has been happening as we have held our storytelling circles, sharing profound experiences we have had in nature. When people hear other’s stories, it’s like the touch-me-not: they ”burst open,” one after another, and seeds of new insights take root and grow as people share their secretly-held treasures. Rich connections are made, deeper understandings unfold, people feel heard, understood, and encouraged to trust what they experienced, their stories honored. It is a beautiful and important thing—especially in these times—to connect with what is deep and true, nurturing, sustaining and healing, within ourselves and our community.
It is almost without fail—after I share a story I am wondering about, there is a moment of silence and then, “I had an experience…” A strange encounter with a coyote. An astounding encounter with a manatee. Finding a lost dog where a dream said it would be—before he was even lost. Knowing the moment a beloved animal died. People of all walks of life join in, regardless of profession, education, nationality or philosophy. It is universal.
Rather than analyzing or minimizing the experiences people share, in these Circles we go in the opposite direction, seeing if together, we can follow unfolding threads within each story or between the stories shared, weaving an ever richer tapestry of meaning with ever deeper and wider connections, all adding to our understanding of the wonder of the world around us.
Not all stories are astounding. Some are very gentle, very sweet—but they all carry seeds that may transform how we see and live in the world. We carry them around, sometimes for decades, because we sense their value. They are nudges for paying attention to what is important, what needs prioritization. We shouldn’t ignore or suppress these experiences; if we do, we are limiting our understanding of our world, which then limits our ability to adapt or make decisions that effectively support a sustainable lifestyle.
And so we continue on with our year of exploring these potentially transformative experiences in nature. Our next Storytelling Circle is Tuesday, June 7 at 10:00am MT. Register here.
We welcome your stories, comments, and ideas for topics to discuss. Email your ideas to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.