Connection in Times of Fragmentation
By Linda Schuyler Ford
It started with Sandy Hook.
What happened to one of us happened to all of us.
In the weeks that followed, Rev. Laura
Westby, pastor at First Congregational Church of Bethel, along with local
officials and school leaders planned “A Place for Healing Through Art".
Two days of storytelling, painting, dance, music, counseling, and listening at
an area conference center.
What I could do, with conviction, was open paths to deep listening, to empathy.
Through Story, I could help begin the work of shoring up walls of normalcy. Through Story, I could widen the lens of perception to see beyond trauma and fear, to include hope, strength, empowerment, even humor.
Dan Keding graciously gave me permission to tell his story, The Dragon’s Tear. Listeners made up a short song that that shepherd boy played.
I added a silly, interactive version of Tipingee to lightheartedly bring awareness to the power of friendship. That created an opportunity for parents to talk about layers of protection, of community. A delicate and honest sense of safety was slowly being restored. Children began to identify people who made them feel safe.
Stories opened conversation, and those initial healing conversations enabled families to fully participate in other healing activities over the weekend. And that led to more conversation. More stories.
Now, as in 2012, our world seems to crack
open with hateful disparity, anger, and unanswered questions. In these times of
fragmentation, what we need, more than anything, is genuine listening with the
intent to understand.
Action, too, is part of healing. And of Story.
Expanding our world view while still stinging is, perhaps, the most perfect and tender place to begin. Again.
Tell those Stories.
Linda Schuyler Ford grew up in Sleepy Hollow, NY, and now divides
her time between Florida and Connecticut. Much of her repertoire revolves
around Peace, Women’s stories, and Hudson Valley Folktales. She is particularly fond of the works of Washington Irving.