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Hollow tree trunks


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In January I went on a one day retreat to gather myself, and my thoughts for 2012.  It was an impromptu invitation by a good friend and fellow storyteller, Gilly, to join her and a group of her friends – and just what I needed.  The venue was an old farm shed turned workshop /retreat space – with a lovely spacious garden to sit in.  As the day unfolded, we went outside, alone, to reflect – and I found a beautiful old, hollow tree to sit in and contemplate.  It was a warm womb-like space, with light filtering through in interesting places – and though I hate creepy crawlies, I did not even think about them.  I just enjoyed the feeling of being held in a space – barefoot, and on ‘holy ground’, listening.  And in that space some of what I was to do this year began to emerge.  Mostly I had a sense that this year was about being present, and listening and responding.  And it was also about a creative journey – that would not unfold quickly, all at once, but slowly, requiring patience, wisdom, trust and resilience.  As I drove home I was also clear about what I would not take on, and what I would embrace in January – and the biggest thing was committing to a 5 week storytelling course – daily from 9 am to 4 pm!!!

At the end of January I started the storytelling course called the Storyteller in the community and what an amazing journey!!  It was what I needed on so many levels, and gave me the resilience I needed to go through this year – challenges that I could not even begin to imagine.  And every week we were given a story to work on. One week I was given the story of the Trumpeter Hornbill, and as I read the story my heart beat faster because I knew this was a story I needed to work with.  I preface this with the statement that I love stories because the powerful stories have many layers of meaning, speaking to each listener in a different way and so often what a story seems to be about is not the only thing it is about.   This is particularly true of the story of the Trumpeter Hornbill – and before I speak about what the story reminded me of – here is a link to the story:

http://www.wisafrica.com/tag/trumpeter-hornbills-faithless-wife/

For me the story was about the things I really wanted to do/ felt called to do and the things that distracted me from “sitting on the eggs, and waiting for them to hatch”.  It was particularly powerful after having started the year drawn to a hollow tree.

So as this year draws to an end I reflect on what I have done, and what I have paid attention to – and though it has been a really sad year – with the passing on my mother – I  believe that for the most part I have paid attention to the things that matter, and not been distracted by those attractive things, that I can do, or am good at, that lead astray.  A lot of the work that has come to me has required me to use my storytelling skills – and what started out as voluntary work has led to at least one paid piece of work! I have paid attention to my family in South Africa and in Uganda.  My trips to Uganda, although they have been about sorting things out, have enabled me to grieve Maama in a place where people know her – and to see her reflected back to me by the people I have met.  (I could not have done this in Cape Town – not in the same healing way).  And somehow I have felt my roots grow deeper – centering me more.  I have attended gatherings that were meaningful, attended artistic performances that have fed my soul and had a sense of being on the right path – even though I cannot see the end of the path.  I know I have not yet arrived, but I know that this time I have stayed in my hollow tree trunk, and trusted that in time the eggs will hatch.

And so, it was appropriate, as the year drew to an end, that I found another hollow tree trunk – and a very old one at that.  And although I did not sit in it – I touched base with it, and all the meaning it held at the beginning of the year.  And as I reflect on the year that past, I realise that I was immersed in storywork – the love of which I shared with my mother – and I have carried a sense of being with her in all her fullness even I was carving my journey.

May you, in 2013, stay true to the things that are important, and if needs be, may you be sealed in a hollow tree trunk until the eggs you are caring for hatch!!!!

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About Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa

I am a facilitator, coach and storyteller/storyfacilitator, and use story, song, art and dialogue to facilitate change and development in individuals and organisations. Over the years I have become aware of how I have used stories to make sense of my life - and of the ways in which we all use story, consciously and unconsciously. Stories - myths, folktales and personal stories - are used to teach, to bind, to questions, to hold ambiguities, to explore, to hold up a different picture, to bring together and also to hold back, to suppress, divide and destroy. With this understanding I have built story into my work. I use it to make conscious the stories people and organisations tell themselves that either support or hinder their growth. I use them as an opening, an invitation to begin to speak about the difficult things - to name 'the elephant' in the room. I use them as an invitation to people to dream of possibilities - and I also teach people to tell and to listen to stories because without a listener there is no story. I was born in Uganda and lived there until I was in my early teens. Since then have lived in various parts of East and Southern Africa - and have been involved in development work in Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and the UK. I have also coached clients in South Africa, Namibia, the UK, Belgium, Israel and USA.

One response »

  1. Thanks for reminding me that I have a mission to fulfill and stakeholders are involved.

    Reply

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