THRIVE II PREVIEW

Releasing Light in Dark Times Through Storytelling

Juliet Bruce | all things healing

“I saw an angel in the stone and I carved until I set him free.” 
 
No one since Michelangelo has more aptly or succinctly told the story of creative process. In one sentence, the sculptor describes its stages: encounter with raw material, receptive attention to the point of love, trusting that inner presence through the not-knowing-for-sure time, illumination, patient and committed toil, and finally manifestation in the concrete world. 
 
So too with life. Whether we are trying to nourish the inherent strengths of a troubled young person, find deeper love in a conflicted relationship, rebuild our life after loss, create common ground between adversaries, or express ourselves in a fresh way, there is no system, structure, or formula more powerful than creative process. 
 
In his book Narrative Medicine: The Use of History and Story in the Healing Process, Dr. Lewis Mehl-Medrona shares a Pasqua Yaqui native American tale from the southwest about an old man who owned light, but kept it hidden in a box within a box deeply buried inside his house. He was afraid that if it was released, he would discover that his daughter, who lived with him, was ugly. Mehl-Madrona writes, “You've probably seen the same thing I have, where people are so afraid of what could happen that they hide their gifts and capabilities from themselves and each other” (p. 59). 
 
Through a messy series of mishaps instigated by the trickster Raven, the light is eventually freed from the box, only to be dropped by Raven in his escape, shattering into millions of tiny fragments. The pieces of light hit the ground and bounce back into the sky, where they appear as the moon and stars. Raven gathers together the remaining fragments, shapes them into a ball, and carries the throbbing orb high into the sky. It shines every day as the sun, making life possible on earth. 
 
Once the world becomes visible, the old man sees that his daughter is beautiful. There had been no reason to hide the light in the first place. 
 
Are we not in many ways like that old man? So afraid of finding out we're not good enough that we hide who we are in boxes within boxes? Yet what the world needs more than anything in these traumatic times is for us to be exactly who we are: imperfect, vulnerable, but fully alive and radiating our life force—the luminous heart at the center of all living things. 
 
One way to do that is to carve away the masks and walls we erect to protect our inner selves from pain, which we learn to do very early in childhood. To shape the fragments of images, echoes, and moments into our story—the  deep soul story that carries our passion and our purpose for being here. To release Soul into our yearning world. 
 
Working in the metaphors of story, we relearn what we have always intuitively known: that the processes of growth, healing, and transformation mean asking not “How can I fix or change this problem?” but rather, “What wants to emerge right here and now from these circumstances and from this person that I am?” 
 
Like rocks obstructing the flow of water, obstacles in our own lives slow us down, ask us to pay close attention, look for the meaning of experience in our interior world, and ask ourselves, “How can I set the angel free?” 
 
Find the Story of Now 
 
Thinking now as artist, storyteller, and sculptor, ask yourself in the third person: 
 

1. What time is it in your life, in the life of your family, your community, the world? Find a metaphor to describe your intuitive sense of time. 

 
2. What's the external environment? And what's the mood? Landscapes and built environments mirror something important about the people who live and work there. The overall atmosphere reflects the deeper emotional context. 
 
3. Who's there? What do they yearn for more than anything? What do they resist with all their might? What private stories do they carry that may be colliding when they interact? 
 
4. What's a healing story plot line you can carve out of these fragments? Remember, healing story has a basic structure of crisis, struggle, unexpected and marvelous help, and transformation. 


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How to heal through story. Working in the metaphors of story, we go through a processes of growth, healing, and transformation.
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