The Art of Unlocking Stories

Carol A. Hand

This morning, I was reminded of a picture I posted on Facebook four years ago
Honestly, I can’t believe I had the courage to share something so imperfect
But it was part of an exercise to unlock stories with faculty colleagues
Who were likewise challenged by not wanting to reveal our childish art.

Pick some objects from the collection,” our workshop facilitator advised.
Choose one that represents an important event in your life,
And two others that you find interesting.”
The collection included a shell, a stone, a feather, and an assortment of plastic toys.
The natural things were the first to be chosen as the basket made its way to me.
As I gazed at what remained, all that was left were plastic toys,
A reminder to me of all that was wrong with the world at that moment.

Instead of faking it, I took the risk of sharing my honest feelings –
I think I’ll sit this one out. None of the plastic garbage left inspires me.”
The facilitator was not offended and offered an alternative
It will be harder, but you can try to find an image in your mind.”
As others were busy drawing, I closed my eyes
I thought about plastic garbage, capitalism, and consumerism.
What memories do these concerns trigger?

I thought about nature and life, and I remembered Sister Lorita.
When we finally hung our works on the wall to explain our memories,
This is what I shared four years ago today, August 17, 2011.


Photo: Sister Lorita Holding a Blade of Grass

My amateurish atempt to honor Sister Lorita, my advisor from St. Xavier College for Women.
The students made fun of her because of her weight and her enthusiasm for her subject, botany.
Her words have stayed with me.

I don’t care if people make fun of me. I know what they think,
But it’s worth it to me if they learn to see
The wonder of life in a blade of grass.”
Chi miigwetch, Sister Lorita, for the gift of celebrating life.

I regret that I never had a chance to thank her
Or tell her about the profound impact her words had
For the struggling young woman she tried to reach and inspire.
Her words and example stayed with me when I worked with students,
Help them see “the wonder of life in a blade of grass.”

Copyright Notice: © Carol A. Hand and carolahand, 2013-2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carol A. Hand and carolahand with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

19 thoughts on “The Art of Unlocking Stories

  1. What a lovely story…it’s always inspiring when someone has inspired you, if you see what I mean….It reminded me of the time I was inspired by a tutor at college and what a profound effect it had on me and my work practice with young people…life changing, not only for me but because of the tutor, life changing for the young people. Thanks for sharing that mon ami…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What wonderful memories, Pat! Thank you for sharing these along with your kind and thoughtful comments. Kindness really does have lifelong ripple effects as you so eloquently point out. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Carol,

    I found your blog through Colette O’Neill’s Bealtaine Cottage blog and have been following it for a while. I live a very different life here in England, with my family and the environment my main concerns. I always find your words so inspiring. My new grand-daughter is part Jamaican, and I wonder how she will be able to deal with the sort of casual racism she is likely to encounter sometimes here. There’s no need to post this on your blog. I just want you to know that your influence travels!

    Best regards,

    Karen Williams

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Karen, Thank you so much for your lovely comments. How exciting it is to be a grandmother, but as you point out, we hope our grandchildren will be treated with kindness and respect. I hope you know how deeply I appreciate your kindness ❤


  3. Beautiful. I love your picture of your mentor. I think a basket of plastic would leave me cold, too. Good for you for speaking the truth! There is a lot going on in your picture — it doesn’t look amateurish to me. Thanks so much for sharing your story of Sister Lorita with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate your kind words, Debra, as well as your astute comments about the drawing – Sister Lorita’s story does have a context. Remembering her words helped me clarify deeper feelings that led me to the path I eventually chose to follow.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. With the emphasis on blind compliance in contemporary society, freeing oneself from inhibitions (both to speak frankly to authority and to express creativity) are extremely laudable achievements.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A very inspiring story, Carol. The wonder of life is represented everywhere in nature, in most simple things as well as the most complex ones. Love your art, it has a powerful message.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautifully written, Carol. Near the end of her life when we would go on walks, my own mama would bend down and pick up the tiniest and most ordinary rock on the path like it was a diamond. Both she and Sister Lorita understood that the tiniest drop of salt water is still the ocean and the weeist rock can be called earth.

    Liked by 1 person

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