What is Unique about this Storytelling Project?

Amrita Ancient Storyteller

 My life has always been a "storytelling project", beginning with my Hungarian grandmother Emilia who told me simple children’s stories in Magyar, followed by my Slovak mother Valeria who told me stories in English. 

When I was 19 I left college to teach for a year at a rural Catholic school in Indiana.  There I discovered that I was not only a listener, but a teller.  Soon afterwards,  my “storytelling project” led to an M.A. in religious education and then a Th.D. in storytelling as a sacred performing art.

After teaching university and seminary, I founded the School of Sacred Storytelling in 1994.  And I have been practicing my ministry through the School since then. I am now an elder as well as a storyteller, 72 years old.

My three spiritual mentors - Wayne Rood, Jorge Rosner, and Anthony Bloom - taught me that true living is in the encounter with others. 

As Rabbi Abraham Heschel said, “All True Living is Meeting.” And I find that encounter — an I-Thou Encounter — is most real in the dynamic of storytelling and storylistening.  This is my life’s breath.  This is my prayer.  This is my discipleship to the God Who Tells and Listens.

But my path, and my teaching method, is peculiar.  This I readily admit. 

Rooted in my Catholic tradition, my approach to sacred storytelling and Scripture is filled with sacred images from Scripture. and so I do not much value memorizing sacred texts because I am not a literalist. 

In the same way, my Eastern Catholic tradition — I am Byzantine Catholic — enriched by a spirituality of icons, a theology of light, and and a praxis of theosis, teaches me to visualize stories in my mind’s eye and then to find vivid words to comunicate that vision.

Out of all this comes my “storytelling project” and its central focus on “Narrative Visualization.”

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© Robert Bela Wilhelm 2016