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Storytelling. So what?

In December 2009, Alabama’s legendary storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham was the featured weekend storyteller at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge.

After lunch on Saturday, I drove her back to her “lodging” in Troy. Knowing that she napped after lunch, I started to leave but she called me back. “Sit with me a while.”

I’ll always cherish that time with her and the stories we shared.

“Stories are the way we 20connect with the people we love… and some we don’t,” she said with a quick smile. “When we stop telling stories, we lose our connection with people and our lives have little purpose.”

Several years ago, I was attending the Leadership Conference at Troy University. The featured speaker for the opening session said he didn’t have a connection to Troy but he did to Brundidge and asked if anyone was from Brundidge. I raised my hand.

I tired to place him with a family that I knew but couldn’t find a kinship. After the session, he came over to speak and I inquired about that family connection. He said his dad had first been married to the matriarch of that family before he married his mother.

“Oh, you’re Little Fox’s son?”

He was surprised that I knew his dad and asked if I had known his grandparents. I was able to share my memories of the grandparents he had never known. I told him of the many late afternoons that I sat on his grandmother’s lap and watched the sun drop slowly from the sky. How she told me stories and taught me more about life and the living of it than I ever found in a book or Sunday sermon. Stories. Connections.

In today’s world, we don’t often take time to share a story – to make those special connections.

For 12 years, the Brundidge Historical Society has sponsored the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival. Even friends have said they don’t want to sit and listen to stories.

But there is nothing like hearing a well-told story. Kathryn Windham said stories are magical because, as the listener, you are a participant.

When you go to a movie, some Hollywood producer has created all the images for you. If there are 500 people in the theater, each one is seeing the same images. But, when listening to a story, each person creates the images in his or her mind. If there are 5,000 people in the audience, the story becomes personal for each one.

Stories. Magic.

On Saturday at the Trojan Center Theater, four of the nation’s master storytellers will take the stage. They will tell stories that connect with the audience in different ways and the pictures they paint will be personal for each of those who listen.

Storytelling. Connections. Magic.

That’s what.