Slice of Life Day 24 of 31: Journeys (my March theme)
I recently went to see the movie Redeeming Love, and an avalanche of memories of Ketchikan, Alaska came rushing forward from my week in May 1998 spent learning about life in the Gold Rush days of Alaska. Women did what they had to do to survive, and the lines were heavily slanted toward survival over living. Dolly Arthur’s house along Creek Street offered a sobering glimpse of life known to the women of those days in Ketchikan. We didn’t stick around this former red light district too long with the kids – we moved on to some G-Rated stories.
In the rainiest city in the state, we were pleased that our excursion to Totem Bight State Park did not get cancelled; we’d looked forward to seeing the totem poles carved by the Tlingit tribe.
Each of the totem poles tells a story that you can read here, and there is also a map of the village as well.
Pole 10 is Raven at the Head of Nass – a chief in a dance hat tops the pole. At the bottom is the chief, Raven-at-the-Head-of-Nass. Raven stole daylight from Chief. The small human figure represents ancestors of the Raven clan who were happy to have daylight. The space between the figures represents respect for the chief.
Pole 3, Man Wearing Bear Hat, is a man of the Bear Clan wearing a large
carved wooden hat with a bear’s head, its brim surrounded by painted whales. The hat was worn on storytelling occasions.
As we listened to the tour guide tell the totem stories, I felt a deep connection to the power of the oral tradition of storytelling. I thought of its impact throughout history and its importance to future generations. The preservation of stories through totems and monuments combines art and reverence for what is held sacred. The experience here in this Native American village was spiritual and moving.
I reflected on my recent afternoon at the Azalea Storytelling Festival in Lagrange, Georgia and the entertainment and messages that are so powerfully felt when a human voice is sharing lessons through story. What a gift – one I need to savor more frequently.
All these things Jesus said to the people in the form of stories; and without a story he said nothing to them.