Thursday, January 22, 2009


I spent my internship year in Denver Colorado, working at a central city congregation, living in the community at Urban Servant Corp, and simply Living Somewhere Other Than The Midwest. When my car wasn't being repaired, I travelled around a bit. I got around the mountains of Estes Park. I went south to the Pueblo area. I found Route 66, Winslow, Arizona, and hummed a little of the Eagles' song, "Take it Easy." I also found out that New Mexico really is the Land of Enchantment.

There I also discovered the Storyteller doll, a folk craft of the Pueblo Indians. I knew immediately that I wanted one, even though on my intern salary (minus car repairs) I knew that I couldn't afford one.

I wanted one because I knew that I was a storyteller.

I remembered something that happened to me when I was in the eighth grade.

I took a class called "Communications." It seemed at the time to be one of the few electives for eighth graders. The course description said something about writing. I knew I was good at that, so I signed up.

I didn't read the fine print. In the fine print course description, "giving speeches" was also listed. I didn't want to give speeches. I wasn't good at giving speeches. To be truthful, I was not good at standing in front of people. at. all.

One of the first thing we had to do was give a speech. It wasn't a hard speech. It was a speech about how we spent our summer vacation or something. But I was nervous, and spoke very rapidly. It was not a moment of triumph, not at all.

I remember as well the "Pet Peeve" speech, and the "demonstration" speech. I remember them as slightly less horrifying. And then there was the storytelling speech.

I chose to tell the story of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Why, I do not remember. I remember that I liked the story, and that my sister and I had once co-written a poem based on the story which contained this memorable couplet:

"That dastardly man built like Jack Lalanne/Was driving poor Ichabad Crane insane."

I put off giving my story speech until I couldn't put it off any longer. I was the last one. I had to do it. I was so nervous. I had followed the directions of memorizing the first few sentences, and the closing few sentences. But, to be perfectly honest, I didn't remember much else of what transpired. It seemed a little like an out-of-body experience.

I finished and sat down.

I'll always remember what the teacher said next:

"Everyone in this class told a story. But Diane is different. Diane is a storyteller." She gave me an A+.

I'd always been an ok student. But it was the first time in my life that anyone told me that I was the best at something.

In the next few days, I plan to share a few of my own stories -- not necessarily in order. I'm not sure yet what they're for. Maybe by telling them, I'll figure it out.


Presbyterian Gal said...

As a fellow storyteller I can tell you that for me, the stories just borrow me as a way to come in. Very strange and energizing experience.

I look forward to your stories!

Lindy said...

Diane, you are such a storyteller that I love your story about storytelling. I think one of the best gifts we can give one another is our stories. Oh, do tell...

Rev SS said...

I envy you this gift ... and look forward to reading more of your wonderful stories.

PS (PSanafter-thought) said...

Great story. Great teacher.

Auntie Knickers said...

Can't wait!

Diane said...

well, just to make sure you understand, these are a few life stories I haven't shared before...may come to "made up" stories, too....

Anonymous said...

Speaking in stories is a gift...and you have the gift. Thanks.

Jennifer said...

Wow. What a great story.
You have a remarkable memory and many other gifts, too.

(Oh, and my parents were members of Central Presbyterian in Denver... just so you know.)

DogBlogger said...

I loved this story. And I'm looking forward to more.

JanetB said...

By the way, I still have a copy of that poem, Diane. It started out "If ever you stroll along the banks of the Hudson River, and stop to linger by the path you follow..." (or something like that) and then it said something about remembering the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. I think the Jack Lalane stanza is the most memorable!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

What a wonderful memory.