What Makes Someone a
Well that's something you'll need to decide for yourself. My goal is to be an advocate for Bahá’í Storytelling, in all of its possible forms. I'm happy to share my ideas with you, but - ultimately - there are probably as many different kinds of "Bahá’í stories" as there are people to tell them. My most authentic voice as a storyteller, for example, comes when I'm telling Native American stories. I will never presume to tell someone else what kinds of stories they should be telling, because it's such a personal choice. The stories I tell reflect my values, my appreciation of the world around us, and my experience of life. Since I am a Bahá’í, the stories I tell also reflect the nexus where my experiences of life meet my beliefs as a member of the Bahá’í Faith. World traveler, former military brat, person with Abenaki heritage (the greeting committee), descendant of Puritan immigrants (yup, the Mayflower and other ships of the Great Migration as well), daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, singer, gardener, child of an artist and a photographer, reader, spiritual seeker, historian, storyteller, and Bahá’í - all those and more comprise my identity.
Many years ago, when my daughters were born and I was deciding how best to be a mother to them, it came to me that although my daughters have European ancestry as well as Abenaki and Mohawk ancestry, New England is where we live and these were the stories I wanted them to learn. The stories born of the indigenous people of the Northeast felt like the right stories to tell my daughters and their friends, because we live here in New England. This part of the Earth, sky, and water have nurtured us - not Europe - and it made sense to me at the time that the Native American stories would nurture us as well. I believed that by acknowledging our deep roots in N'Dakinna - the phrase for "our land" in Abenaki, we were respecting all of our ancestors as well as all of our descendants. The stories became part of the fabric of our lives, so that sometimes we'd just make a story reference to one another in order to get an idea across about the best course of action in a particular situation, a kind of a verbal shorthand shared in our family. That's what stories do: they entertain but they also teach important life lessons. Find the stories that are right for you, and you too will tell stories in an authentic voice that reflects your innermost self and most deeply-held beliefs. The stories will be evocative whether they're poignant, dramatic, humorous, or a little bit of each. Just listen to your inner voice when you consider which stories you feel best sharing. Actually, that advice is probably excellent for every storyteller, Bahá’í or otherwise. You're most welcome!
I'm an American Bahá’í and a Native American Storyteller. They are not the same thing. Most Bahá’í's are not necessarily Storytellers or Native Americans. And most Native Americans are not necessarily Storytellers or Bahá’í's. Both of those identities, however, are met in me, so that's the position from which I view the world, and form my ideas and opinions. As a "Bahá’í storyteller", you may feel most comfortable telling stories from Bahá’í history or maybe Bahá’í folktales or possibly personal stories about your life as a member of the Bahá’í Faith or perhaps biographical stories of well-respected Bahá’í's ...or ... or ...or... there are so many possibilities!
More than twenty years ago, when I was still forming my philosophy about storytelling, it seemed that not many people in the Bahá’í Faith were talking about storytelling, and - if they were - it was usually in the context of Bahá’í children’s' classes. But my experiences as a performing storyteller, both within and without the Bahá’í context, convinced me that authentic storytelling is for the entire community, regardless of age. Each story listener brings their own life experience to their understandings of a story they hear, therefore the more life experience a person has the more likely they are to comprehend the richness and depth of a story that's being told. In other words, yes, storytelling can be for children, but storytelling is most certainly also warmly received by adults. And it's the latter awareness of the role that storytelling can play within community that I am finally, joyfully seeing in the wider Bahá’í context.
I've been a Bahá’í for 35 years and a performing Storyteller for 30 of those years. Over that time I've told a lot of stories for a lot of people! I also earned both a BA and an MA in Bahá’í Storytelling along the way (and that's a story too!). Since I've been researching and writing about Bahá’í Storytelling for a long time now, I'm delighted to finally be able to share my thoughts with other storytellers with the goal of creating a space where we can also exchange ideas in a spirit of joyful cooperation and discovery. All the ideas that I publish about Bahá’í Storytelling on this website are mine alone, unless credited otherwise, and in no way represent any "official Bahá’í position" on storytelling.
My purpose is NOT to proselytize about the teachings of the Bahá’í Faith, but rather to consider the ways in which this vibrant world religion - just as every world religion that has come before it - is giving birth to a unique culture. Should you happen to want to find out more about the Bahá’í Faith, there are some excellent websites to check out that I reference on my RESOURCES page.