I think it might be too late to say Happy New Year. Isn’t it unlucky or something? I cannot believe that it is March already… mind you I think I begin every Journal entry saying, I cannot believe… Perhaps my New Year’s resolution should have been to find a new way to begin my journal without feeling embarrassed about my irregularity.
If you have visited this journal and site before, you may have noticed it has had a revamp. I am thrilled with the work my nephew has done and, of course, I am full of good intentions to provide something enlivening to read regularly. We’ll see.
However, if you are after a new website or a revamp yourself contact Hemi. email@example.com
In 1992, Nan Gregory, a Canadian storyteller and author, came to New Zealand to tell at the Glistening Waters Storytelling Festival. In one of her sessions, she told the story of how she had felt forced to learn Karate (enough to chop a table in half) the year her best friend was raped. As the story unfolded, I found myself admiring her courage, and wondering how will boys ever learn to be good men if they only hear stories about violent men?
Later in the nineties, Annie Stewart an Australian storyteller voiced the same question at another festival and led me to craft, “Fairy Godfathers Where Are You?” A story about which another Australian storyteller, David Shapiro wrote:
“Gaye’s story, Fairy Godfathers, about the awkward, reticent, unacknowledged goodness and generosity of men is doubly moving because it is created and told by a woman. It is told with such genuine gratitude and above all forgiveness for men’s ways, it made me cry. I listened to the story as I would to words of grace. This is a profoundly healing story.”
I say this, not to bang my own tambourine but to illustrate how stories move people to feel healed. My own experience of this happened much earlier when Deborah Pearson, an Australian storyteller visited Wellington, New Zealand and told the story of her relationship with Kuan Yin, (the Mother Of Compassion in every tradition of Buddhism) as she dealt with the grief of losing her baby and her mother in the same passage of time. Deborah’s story profoundly affected me, it was a story of grief and resilience and the meditation she quoted from John Blowfield’s book Search For The Goddess of Compassion is powerful. It goes something like this…
First you take yourself to the highest point you know,
a place where you can only see the sky.
Then with your mind you make everything dark,
until there is nothing, nothing at all.
Aah, but then you notice that there is something,
and that something is the soft light of the moon,
and in the soft light of the moon you can see waves
with white caps on, moving…
and then way out on the horizon,
you see a bright light, and as you look at it
it begins to grow and to move towards you…
getting bigger and brighter and brighter and bigger,
until you can see that it is her Kuan Yin,
The Mother of Compassion and on her face is
Such a loving smile.
She is so pleased to see you that her eyes are filled with tears.
When you know how to do this you can keep her
with you nearly all the time, until you can do without her…
(these words are only my memory of the meditation. I say it often and fear I may not be remembering it correctly and have loaned the book out. So, I’ll come back and reword it later if it’s incorrect.)
At the time I heard Deborah’s story, I had been seeing a young woman in my counselling practice for about five weeks. She would arrive each Friday morning and no matter how I greeted her or tried to engage her in conversation she would say,
‘Christ, you talk shit!’
I was flummoxed but at the same time, the pain she was feeling resonated in me and made me determined to wait.
And the morning after I’d met Deborah and Kuan Yin, that young woman was different, softer and ready to tell her tale. It was, of course, a terrible tale of abuse and as she told it, she regressed and slid off her chair onto the floor of my room and curled herself into a fetal position.
I wasn’t sure how to approach her, given her strong rejection of me over so many weeks, so I knelt down beside her and said all those counsellory things…and nothing happened. Then, hoping that my voice would eventually ground her and bring her back, I began talking… I’m not sure what I said only that I tried to make my voice as steady, as reassuring as I could. Soon I found myself telling her the story of seeing Deborah the evening before and how she had proved to me as many people have, before and since, how resilient is the human spirit. Before I knew it the words of that meditation, magically remembered, rolled off my tongue… ‘First you take yourself…’ when I got to the words, ‘…she’s so glad to see you, that her eyes are filled with tears…’ she suddenly uncurled and stood up without a word and left the room. I was left kneeling on the floor calling out, ‘Hey, I’ll be here next week…if you want to come…’
She didn’t come that week not the week following and I was worried. She had been referred by Court Order to attend counselling…
However, in the third week, she left a message on my answer phone and soon she was in my room again. This time opening the conversation by saying:
‘Do you think I could take Kuan Yin to be my mother?’’
‘I’m not sure,’ I said, we’ll need to ask her.”
And we did, over a period of years, we gathered stories of the Mother Of Compassion. We discovered, from our reading and some other events, that she was so loving, so compassionate she had chosen to become a Bodhisattva over going to Nirvana and becoming a Buddha because she wanted to stay in touch with the human condition and be able to hear the cries of those in pain. She especially looks after women and children and she gives out babies to those who ask. In fact, and this was the most amazing thing about her we found, you don’t even have to ask… only to call her name and she never refuses a request. So the stories go. What an archetype to find and take for your mother.
Eventually, that young woman moved away to another city but Kuan Yin was in my life and this is not the last you will read about how stories of her and other mythic figures have changed my life and the lives of others.