I am thrilled to have received pre-orders for my novel due to be published by Fraser Books, a small indie publisher, on September 27th, and I’m hoping more of you will support my efforts to cover some of the printing costs I need. A thousand thank yous to those of you who have pre-ordered and I’ll have your book in the mail as soon as the launch is over.
I have been well and truly living in the world of story these past two weeks. Not only telling many stories in many settings but having what I think of as ‘story connections.’ I’m sure it has something to do with being more or less free of ‘the novel’ which currently sits with the publisher until she and I go to the book designer to do whatever one does at the book designer’s.
I’m reading more than I have for a long time and I’ve swapped my laptop for this big desk computer with a widescreen and that’s also seemed to free my mind and my creativity somehow which may have something to do with shifting all my files of old writing, stories(mine and other people’s-I’ve been reading as I go) as well as things I always wanted to read but never got around to before, from one device to another. I’m catching up with myself a bit.
Anyway, it’s resulted in my making acquaintance with people on new and deeper levels. One of these events concerned a ceremony I was planning for the mother of a young man who died on 1st August last year. I was searching and searching for the right story to tell but couldn’t think of one I knew and my searches turned up interesting stories but not THE one. So, I wrote to the Healing Stories list and asked my fellow storytellers. Almost immediately, as if she’d been waiting for the request, Joan Stockbridge , a storyteller whose work I’m just getting to know, wrote and said ‘Rafe Martin has written a book called The Boy Who Lived With Seals.’
I couldn’t have told you then, why the story was the right one..but I KNEW it was.
Again I checked all my resources but to no avail. It seemed no one in New Zealand knew Rafe’s work. Time was marching on with a heavy tread. And then, I received an email from a long admired storyteller who suggested that I write to Rafe and ‘friend ‘ him on Facebook. So, I did of course. Rafe was warm and welcoming but also in San Francisco which is I gather, far from his home. ‘But,’ he said, ‘you might find on YouTube or Amazon, a video or recording of me telling the story.’ Off I went to YouTube and found, not the story I was looking for but something of equal or maybe more value; an audio of Rafe telling stories from his book Endless Path and raising the question: Are Bodhisattvas Real?
Well, anyone who has known me very long will know of my relationship with Kuan Yin and know that as far as I am concerned the question has only one answer. It was a thrill to find that the story I didn’t know but knew was the ONE was written by a man who turned out to be a Zen Buddhist teacher.
I found a copy of Rafe telling the story on Amazon audible and listened to it that night. The following morning, I had a meeting with the mother who was holding the ceremony for the anniversary of her son. After we’d been sitting for awhile I asked her if I could offer her the story as part of the ceremony and told it as best I could after one telling. As I spoke, her eyes filled with tears and she whispered, ‘It’s right, just so right,’ and when I finished she pulled out a sheet of paper and read me a poem her son had written which expressed a deep longing for the river and the sea. It was the right one. I love it when story does that, reaches out from across the world and shouts:’Here I am! Tell me.’ And who says that the bodhisattva wasn’t there that day?
A long,long time ago perhaps as long as January 2013, Richard Clark, a man very dear to many people in our province and known to his wife as Superman, died after a long battle with a motor neuron disease. Well known for his filmmaking in America and other countries, Richard spent his years in New Zealand on a number of creative adventures, one of which was a radio programme.
The night he asked me to be a guest on his programme he asked me what storytelling was to me and I, thinking of the old story about the rebbi who was a great storyteller and whose congregation grew weekly because his stories were so marvellous and who, when asked ‘Rebbi, why do you always tell stories instead of teaching us? When will you teach us the meaning of true prayer?” replied “Can I tell you a story?” replied in the same way. Can I tell you a story about storytelling?
I don’t think Richard was very pleased, but he did let me have my way and even had the grace to enjoy the story, and to understand the teaching it offered,I think. Today, I found it lurking among my playlists as I cleared my computer, and thought I’d share it with you in honour of his memory and just to hear his voice again. I hope you enjoy.