Gift Three… Connection and Community

Posted | 0 comments

Now, this wonderful gift of connection and community could apply to many things in our lives.

We are a culture that is losing its front porch, actively lending a helping hand to a neighbor, holding the door open, the social graces of waiting your turn, “please” and “thank you,” and the list goes on and on. Small as these may be, they are a connection to our greater community of human kind.

We assume we’re connected in every way possible, yet we can drag around a gnawing sense of disconnect that we are unaware of most of the time, until… we sit down with a few people for a meal at a table, are an invited guest to a wedding ceremony, attend a funeral, watch a movie in a theater that gets the audience engaged, attend a concert where we applaud and vocalize, … you go ahead and name one. I just quickly listed some occasions where we find ourselves in a group connecting to people in community and this connection had nothing to do with our hand-held devices or laptops.

As users of the internet and hand-held devices (and count me in), we are connected and yet isolated at the same time.

Nothing will ever replace the real thing of being with other human beings.  And it is the yearning of our souls to hear the words “you matter in this world”.

As humans, we have wired into us a chemistry to connect. (see Dr. Henry S. Lodge’s book, “Younger Next Year”) We need the human connection to keep us healthy and vital. It has the capacity to extend life just like diet and exercise.

So how can storytelling produce such a thing?  How does it create connection and community?

As I have said in earlier blogs, storytelling is an invitation to relationship—an invitation the storyteller extends to their listener or listeners of “Let me tell you a story.” From there, all parties involved have agreed to participate in connecting through a story in a community, in a setting. That setting could be the living room, the side of a bed, a backyard, a church, a classroom, a concert hall or a conference.

When it’s a whole bunch of people on the rug, so to speak, storytelling breaks down our apprehensive posture and caution with strangers. In storytelling events, I like to break down the fourth wall of theater and invite my audience to engage in conversation.  Whether it’s a sigh, a laugh, tears, applauding, an answer back to me, singing with me—all of these responses back to me connect me to the listeners and the listeners to one another.  For that short hour or two we are a community, sharing the same stories and reactions.  I love to plant an intermission in the middle of a story event so that my audience can talk to one another.  I know they enjoy this, because it’s a little bit of work to get them seated once again.

This gift of connection and community with story can happen anywhere.  As a family or with friends, try it in the car as you head to a destination or back home from one.  Avoid the radio and cell phone and tell a story.  Play “Story Tag”! One person starts the story—ex: “It was a dark and stormy night…”—and the next person picks up from where they left off, not ignoring their information, but continuing on with it as they tell the story.

When the weather changes, take advantage of a campfire or an outdoor dining area.  The warmth and extended light of summer provides us with more time to linger.  Who wants to push away from the table or go inside when it’s so beautiful? A story, whether read or remembered, is a perfect addition to a warm summer evening. As the host or hostess, you may want to have some story sharing ideas in mind:  best-childhood-outside-the-house memory growing up, a vacation you loved, a bad vacation story (some of the best ones had some challenges).

Read to one another during the summer.  Turn off the TV.  There’s more re-runs than new shows anyway. Decide on a book you would like to read together as a family, as roommates, as a couple.  I strongly encourage the choosing as a group, as there is an investment as future listeners. And then, simply decide how you’ll read it aloud to one another.  I know this works because we have done this as a family for years.  The conversation will be rich.

Head to your local library and find some audio books you would enjoy listening to together. Again, select it together.  There are some fabulous dramatic readings of stories new and treasured. Ask the kids to draw pictures as they listen in the car or at home… and why don’t you try drawing as well.  Share these after a chapter is finished.  Why not make a collage on a wall of the chapters of this audio book.

And what is it about those spooky stories at a camp setting that always builds community and connection?  I don’t know, but it’s so much fun.  I have found that one last sweet and wonderful story is a good wrap-out after the spooky stories. The “I can’t sleep now… or… is that creature from the lake going to come to our camping site tonight?” will dissipate.

Connection and community.  We think we’re doing it all the time.  Well, we’re living in the same house aren’t we?  I challenge you to be intentional with the connection of storytelling and see what happens in your community of relationships.

My next blog will be on Gift Four: Truth and Ah-hahs!

Until then, may the story you live out today change someone, I know it can.


Leave a Comment

Join Our Mailing List
We respect your privacy.