Story Dynamics – Stories » Story Archive » A Winter Story and a Blessing

A Winter Story and a Blessing


Contents

1) THE STORY: TEACHING IN THE DARK
2) A WINTER BLESSING FOR STORYTELLERS

1) THE STORY: TEACHING IN THE DARK

Here’s a story for the time of year – and the times in society – when the darkness can seem all-encompassing. And a blessing based on the story.

Teaching in the Dark

One Hasidic rabbi said said to another, “How often do you check up on your followers, to make sure they are doing what they are supposed to?”

The second rabbi said, “Let me tell you a story:

“There were once three prisoners locked in a dark dungeon. It was so black inside that they could not even see their own hands. Two of them did well enough in the darkness. But the third had been so disoriented by the months of deprivation that he could not even feed himself when food was brought. One time he would drop his food; another time he would let his plate tilt and spill his food into the muck at their feet.

“One of the other two prisoners tried to help the struggling one. Every day he would teach him exactly what to do: ‘Put your left hand about a finger-length from the edge of the plate. Bring it down now….’ But the next day, the food would be arranged differently, and the poor fellow would have to learn all over again.

“One day, the prisoner who had been teaching the suffering one said to the other, ‘Why don’t you help me teach him?’

“The other said, ‘He will never learn to eat in this darkness. Why don’t you help me with MY task? I am trying to cut a hole in the wall of our cell, to let in some light. Once he can see for himself, you will have no need to teach him!’

“And so,” continued the second rabbi, “I do not try to check up on what my followers do each moment. Instead, I try to bring some light into their thinking.”*

How Will You React to the Darkness?

Faced with darkness, will you resort to “managing the dark”? Will you rely too much on manipulating minutia, on trying to control exactly what happens at each moment?

Or will you trust the storyteller within you – and the creative intelligence of those around you? Will you tell – and be guided by – stories that can help summon the light?

  • A note on the story: “Teaching in the Dark” is my version of a Hasidic story told about the Rebbe of Pshishke and the Rebbe of Apt – but sometimes about other Hasidic rabbis. (Hasidism, by the way, is a Jewish mystical sect founded in Eastern Europe in the mid-eighteenth century.) The magnificent storyteller Sharon Humphreys-Brooks kindly called this story to my attention.


    2) A WINTER BLESSING FOR STORYTELLERS

    May the coming of the new light find you already surrounded with stories that nourish, liberate, and illuminate!

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