Saturday, May 09, 2009


If you ever need a story for a particular purpose, you only have to ask a few storytellers for suggestions. I really must declare, with no reservations, that storytellers are the most generous networkers I have ever found. Here’s a story to prove it.
When Edmonton’s Food Bank asked me for a fund-raising dinner keynote, I wanted to tell stories about sharing and celebrating with food. I had one story of my own—a tale about a woman who would only help the food bank if they would accept her dried beans rather than the canned beans they were asking for. It was a relevant story, but hardly inspiring standing there all alone. I needed something more.
I asked some local storytellers for suggestions. They sent a smorgasbord from which I chose one from Renee Englot, a Thai riddle about a man who searches for a daughter-in-law by asking eligible women how they would use a large fish to feed a family for a long time. Though various candidates suggested ways of preserving the fish, the winner said she would cook up the fish with many vegetables, excellent spices and lots of rice, then share it with her friends and neighbours so they would remember her if ever her family was hungry. It was a great story, and I knew there must be more. So I kept searching.
I put out the word on the Healing Story Alliance mailing list, Its members sent me a buffet of ideas. The one I used came from Rita Paskowitz of Omaha Nebraska. It’s a heaven and hell story about people with very long arms. In Hell they are starving, trying to feed themselves with arms too long to reach their mouths. In Heaven they are flourishing, using their long arms to feed each other. With this variety of offerings, I thought I had finished searching.
But the bounty continued. A few days later I received a note from Jackie Baldwin, moderator of a website called Story Lovers World Story Lovers world has a huge number of stories and books of stories indexed by topics. She drew my attention to the food section. It’s like going to a story Super Store. There I found a little story about a dying man who woke up, knowing he’d gone to Heaven because he could smell freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Noticing that he was in a room very much like his own, he climbed out of bed, made his way to a kitchen like his own, and found hundreds of cookies, some in containers, some cooling on racks, some in the oven and some waiting to go in. Tentatively he reached for a warm cookie. Bam!! A spatula struck his wrist. His wife cried, “Don’t touch those. I’m baking them for the funeral.” With that, I truly had enough stories to meet my needs.
I ended the presentation with the hope that Edmontonians would be as generous with food as storytellers are with stories—and I meant it too.

1 comment:

Dale said...

Hey Wendy, great stories!!
I have a similar one to the one from Nebraska about the people with long arms. The only real difference is that instead of having long arms, the people were given extra long utensils to use, the only rule being that they must use their utensils to eat.