International Ministries

Story Pillar

April 24, 2014 Journal
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Recently I was privileged to be part of creating a community art project for an annual exhibit in Olympia, WA where we are now living. The following is the description I wrote for the display.

The Story Pillar:

Created for the XLVIII Olympia Arts Walk,

April 25-26, 2014 Olympia, WA

Artists: Downtown guests and friends of Table Grace, a weekly meal provided at the First Baptist Church of Olympia, WA and hosted by the Emmaus Community. Participants ranged from 3 years old to 70+

Process: Convinced that we enlarge our lives by engaging and honoring the stories of others, the Emmaus Community set out to collect the stories of some of our downtown neighbors who gather each Sunday at Table Grace.  They did this by offering coffee, a safe and welcoming place to create, conversation, paper, chalk and pastels, and an invitation to share their stories through art.  After two sessions, all of the drawings were gathered, trimmed and then collaged and layered onto the four-sided story pillar made from recycled folding closet doors.

Purpose: Legendary documentary creator Ken Burns says that the best stories are about "One plus one equals three." A good story is more than simply the sum of its parts. There is something beyond the words and the data and the images. The power of this story pillar is in your interaction with it. Built as a pillar instead of on a flat surface, the Story Pillar is meant to engage more of your senses, not only your sight. To honor another’s story you must be intentional, present, engaged, and willing to have your perspective challenged. All stories are layered and must be discovered. Often you have to come back again and look at it from another angle, to walk around it, and see something that escaped your notice the first time or that you judged or wrote off too quickly.  Sharing our stories humanizes all of us, motivating us to learn more and live differently. We hope that you will listen to these significant stories and find that your own is not that different from those who you share the sidewalks with in Olympia.

Some of the Stories shared were:

A seven-year-old's desire to have a home to live in;

A teenager’s tribute to her recently deceased mother;

A good day remembered on a train ride;

A story of rejection, acceptance, and salvation claimed;

The last words spoken by a grandfather to his grandson in recovery;

Memories of palm trees, Florida sunshine, and words of hope of a new neighbor;

Clouds, rainbows, hearts, flowers, flags, and forests;

Names of loved ones living and dead;

Words and images of faith in God: sustaining through suffering, accepting always,

and ever-present in people and places of grace.