The Big Story — Donna Sife

The stories I tell just keep getting bigger. There was once a time when I wanted to tell only Jewish stories. Then only stories that could be held, were contained. Now I want to tell stories that spill over the edges, that leave you stirred, shaken, maybe even troubled. That live within the listener long after the teller has left.

Recently, I told a collection of such stories at the Theosophical society. At the end of the performance one of the audience members asked me what the meaning of some of the motifs were – “what did the bear skin represent?” she asked, and “did the candle wax have particular importance?”

I welcomed the question because it gave me an opportunity to speak about something which has become increasingly clear to me, as a storyteller.

Often I hear people interpret stories, speak about the archetypes and what they mean, what the symbol is trying to impart. In doing so, I feel that the internal process which such stories demand in the listener is stymied. Once we hear what a symbol means, our own search for resonance and meaning is interfered with. We are given the interpretation of one person, who may change their relationship with that symbol or archetype tomorrow. We are left with the listenings of someone else’s soul.

I am a storyteller. The type that went from place to place, gathered people in the square and transported them, inspired them, woke them up, shook their insides around so that they could resettle in a new pattern, a new way of being. It is a tradition that believes that the story speaks to the soul, not the ego… to the heart, not the head. In todays world , we yearn so to ‘understand’, to conquer with our mind, but it is not in the mind that a mythic story dwells.

So I do not offer interpretation. What I offer is to tell the story again, and again… on and on, if need be – until the ego has stepped aside and the soul can hear. I trust that the life of the story continues long after I have gone, if the listener can step aside and be taken up and in, to a world where words speak not to the mind, but to the soul.

I invite you to trust it too.

© Donna Jacobs Sife – 1999