Resources for Recovering Resilience: The Storyteller… and Forgiveness

I’m weaving two themes together in this post: the power of stories to restore what is broken, fragmented, exiled, into wholeness and belonging again…

Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.– Barry Lopez, The Crow and the Weasel

…and the power of forgiveness to do the same…

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.– Catherine Ponder

The thread began for me when I posted the March 10, 2014 Weekly Quotes on Stories are the Currency of Human Contact. I had learned from Fred Luskin, director of the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University, that true forgiveness includes changing the story. (Sample quotes from that post are repeated below.)

Then my friend Rhea recommended New York Times best-selling author Jodie Picoult’s latest novel The Storyteller, which is all about the power of story to help us recover our resilience, compassion, forgiveness, as well as a sense of truth and justice. As Picoult writes, “History isn’t about dates and places and wars. It’s about the people who fill the spaces between them.”

The Storyteller is a profoundly compelling exploration of the existence of good and evil and the dividing line between the two – as Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote, that runs down the middle of every human heart. The context is the hearts and minds of Germans and Jews caught in the hostility and brutality, yet moments of integrity and love, in the Holocaust. (But truly, the universal stories that continue to happen…in Cambodia, in Rwanda, in the Sudan, in neighborhoods and communities close to home.) The Storyteller is so conscientious in its exploration of the powerful forces that lead us to compassion, lead us to betrayal, lead us to rage, lead us to forgiveness, lead us to changing the story.

We hurt people and are hurt by people because we are people.– Jack Kornfield, “The Science and Practice of Forgiveness”

The Storyteller is crafted by a master writer leading us into the depths of our humanity, and our inhumanity, and our humanity again. Not an easy book at times, though brilliant in its philosophical depth and characters that are so real in their humanness. Life is not easy at times either, though sometimes radiantly brilliant in the connections and possibilities of forgiveness among people. I highly recommend this powerful and poignant lesson in how to create and share and change the story.

The Storyteller by Jodie Picoult. Simon and Schuster, New York. 2013

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[from the March 10, 2014 Weekly Quotes on Stories are the Currency of Human Contact.]

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.– Harold Goddard

If you don’t know the trees you may be lost in the forest, but if you don’t know the stories you may be lost in life.– Siberian Elder

There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories.– Ursula K. LeGuin

The universe is made of stories, not atoms. -Muriel Rukeyser

Story is far older than the art of science and psychology, and will always be the elder in the equation no matter how much time passes.– Clarissa Pinkola Estes

If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive.– Barry Lopez, in Crow and Weasel

Stories are the currency of human contact.– Robert McKee

The shortest distance between a human being and truth is a story.– Anthony de Mello