Friday, November 18, 2011

A Journal Writing Textbook

Within my Journal Writing/Storytelling class, my professor has chosen to do something unique.  She has chosen a book on writing that is not ordinarily used as a textbook, and gone through it, chapter by chapter, with my classmates and I, even permitting some of us to teach a section or chapter from it during the course of the semester.  While I taught from a middle chapter earlier this semester, the sections that have remained most strongly with me have been from the earliest parts of the book.  For those of you who may want to check it out or read it sometime, it is called Storycatcher,and is written by Christina Baldwin. 

For me, there were really two stories, or sections that have stayed with me...the first was a story concerning World War I:

"On Christmas Eve in 1914, two lines of homesick soldiers, one British, one German, were dug into trenches on the Western Front in the midst of World War I.  Between them was a fire zone called no-man's land.  On this moonlit, snowy night, the Germans lifted army issued Christmas trees twinkling with tiny candles over the edge of their trenches and set them in plain sight.  The British shouted and cheered in delight.  The Germans began to sing, 'Stille Nacht...' and the British began to sing along with 'Silent Night.'  This encouraged the Germans, and they set down their gund in the moonlight and heaved themselves from their trenches carrying candles, cake, and cigars toward their enemies.  the British responded in kind carrying steamed pudding and cigarettes.  The men met in the middle of the forbidden zone, exchanged gifts, sang carols, and played soccer.  This seemingly spontaneous truce extended for hundreds of kilometers among thousands of soldiers.  They couldn't shoot each other.  The war essentially stopped.  Horrified commanders on both sides had to transfer thousands of men to new positions until the enemy became faceless and storyless again, something killable, not a brother."--(From Storycatcher, by Christina Baldwin. Preface, pages XI-XII.) 
Portrayals like the one in this story are a touching reminder that people, while possessing unique identities, are yet all alike.  We all have our own joys, fears, loves, problems, dreams, aspirations, and hopes in life, and we all share an equal value in the estimation of Almighty God.  This story presented on a grand scale something that should be remembered in daily life too--give people grace, and have mercy; sometimes it is impossible to understand, or to know all the motivating factors... 

The other section that really stood out to me was the recollection within chapter one of a Grandfather calling his Grand-daughter into his study to see the purity of a jar of honey the family had produced on their farm.  The happiness, contentment, and love permeating this story touched me as I was reading.  The author was so right about how reading the reminisces of others brings to mind personal memories; when I read this passage, I remembered some of the times my Dad or Mother called me aside to show me something special to them.  It seems now that they were not just sharing knowledge of a tangible object, but a piece of their heart too.  It was not just showing me something special, but trusting someone they held in special regard to have a glimpse of what they held dear.  To me that seems the most precious...A flower, insect, gem, or other object, even a jar of honey, may not be intrinsically valuable, but when such an object gains an identity within one's memory, then it becomes priceless.

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