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The Storyteller - Extracted from Jan Swagerman’s “The Death of the Storyteller, the end of HIS story

There once was a Storyteller. He loved telling the stories of his father very much and often retold many famous old story. As he spoke sometimes, it was as if the heroes who had died long ago, came to life. And sometimes the Storyteller himself changed so much; it was as if he became part of another reality, another world.

When he started out telling his stories, he told them wherever he could. He spoke about the promises made by those forefathers, stories on how to prepare yourself for a Kingdom to come and how we could reach that. He was quite shocking to those who didn’t want to live as foretold and some even made an academic issue out of it. But he gathered great audiences, more and more. One day even five thousand people listened to him and in some miraculous way he managed to feed them all. People hung on to him as a new fairy king, a new leader, who could show the way out of oppression; out of misery. His stories lifted them up, empowered them. Many people came to hear him and he became quite famous.

One day he told a story in a house full of people. So many other people gathered that some made a hole in the roof just to enter the house. It was clear: His stories brought healing, gave people inspiration and people literally ‘walked the extra mile’ to hear him speak. When he spoke, the blind could see and the deaf could hear. So he could become the most beloved man in history. The High Priests and even the Emperor himself would be won over by the magic of his words, for sure. Wouldn’t everybody like a fairy kingdom to come and to hear stories about it?

But that is not how his story ended.

Greedy people in his time, were afraid they had to give up their powers. They didn’t want to change or start a new way to be. They didn’t want to accept the mirror the Storyteller gave them and became upset. As a result, the people didn’t want to listen to his stories anymore and slowly he lost nearly all of his audiences. It all happened in just a week. One moment he had a triumphant audience shouting “Hosanna!”, but a week later he was left alone. It must have been a shock to him, suddenly being without an audience. What is the use of telling about love and healing if nobody listens?

Only his closest friend knew the lonely path one needs to troth to fulfil one’s dreams. When it comes to action or decision making - between the known and the unknown, about faith and trust and the painful realisation of change - most people quit. Even his closest friends fell asleep when he faced his coming death. He had to face his end because real stories are about transformation and growth; but too often too painful for most people. His former audience rather preferred a dangerous criminal to this Storyteller and gone they were; looking for other ways of satisfaction. One by one, the fairy believers dropped away and were not able to face death.

But our Storyteller not only had the courage to face death, he also conquered it.

He went through a dreadful experience and understood that the end of his mission had become the mission itself. No words could describe his experience; on the other hand the painful nails in his body could and for three days he lay alone, with only Death in the room. And Death told him a story. The last story, any living being will hear before they cease to exist in their old ways. It is the story of transformation. On a good Friday, the chain of cause and effect – the very bone of every story – was broken. The Storyteller gave up… and only silence remained.

Yet, since then people haven’t stopped telling his story. ‘The High Priests and the Emperor have long gone but the Storyteller still lives in all of us. The word has become flesh’, they said. ‘The Storyteller was transfigured into a living legend, leaving his spirit behind. Where people gather to tell his story, he will be there as well. Our mouth is now his word and we feed our fellow brothers and sisters with these words of hope and healing.’ they say.

Real storytellers aren’t just for entertainment or fun. They are creators of a world to believe in. Their job is to share their beliefs so strongly, that a new reality is created in the minds of the people. A good story has to change and renew people. They make us recognise our own failures and make us yearn for a new way to be; showing us that new possibilities lay ahead...

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