Stories hold us together –

“Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.”  Barry Lopez

A quote used today as the staff of the school I work for meet for this first time this year. It was a gathering off site. A chance to renew the mission of the school, to meet and greet and to set the tone for the year.

The leadership team of the school did a wonderful job of allowing space for conversation. There was the standard social time with light breakfast. The first few hellos and introductions of new people and old people. It is that time when you scan the room for old and new faces.

Then we walked carefully in to meat of the morning – we did not dance around the issues of this past summer but walked right into them. We as a nation have dealt with the loss of so many black men. We have watched …

This is the start of a blog post from last summer that never got finished. It was nice, positive and was going to be up lifting. I was writing on a Tuesday night. It was late and raining. I was tired and decided it could be finished in the morning. Morning came but by then I was safely resting in a hospital bed after a heart attack and having a stint put in. A night with a story.

 The fall traveled on with more stories, an election that turned us upside down with stories. There have been protests, there are phone calls and letters written, there are marches and yet these stories are not being heard.

Today the new education secretary was voted in – another story all together. At the moment I am not feeling connected to Lopez’s quote.  I am not sure we are being held together by stories. I feel the splintering of our country, the lack of understanding by so many that stories seem to be lost in the mixing of one group working to top the other.

No one is listening – no stories are being heard. We have closed our ears, our hearts and our skills at thinking and empathy.  It is from all sides that we seem not to be listening.

Stories can only hold us together if we are listening (really listening – not just hearing). We must be listening to each other with compassion.

I am hoping in the days to come that we find that compassion on all sides. That we learn to listen carefully with empathy.

We need to listen not just hear!   It is a statement I have used in my classroom over and over again.  I know you hear my voice but are you really listening.

Listening: Listening is the ability to accurately receive and interpret messages in the communication process.Listening is key to all effective communication. Without the ability to listen effectively, messages are easily misunderstood.

Are we really listening to the stories of all people??

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About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, help in schools and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to Stories hold us together –

  1. Thank you for this post, Joanne. and I’m glad you recovered from your heart attack.
    I think I’ve been in denial about the voting outcome today. I just can’t believe we’ve come to this. Nevertheless, I think your post about stories comes at just the right moment. The time is ripe to create new stories as people around the US – and the world – organize to put up a united front for common sense, humanity and love. We need to write new stories. Yours is just a beginning.

  2. Ramona says:

    “We must be listening to each other with compassion.” The challenge of today!

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