Mary Medlicott, Storyteller and Author - Storyworks

Storytelling Starters ~ Too busy?

Yesterday morning I needed to look up a song. Early in January Paul and I have a tryst to meet up with some friends in Llansteffan, a village on a Carmarthenshire estuary where I once stayed for a couple of lovely weeks while doing storytelling work in some nearby schools. I told these friends that when we are there, looking out over the sea or, if the tide is out, the sandflats, I shall sing them a Welsh song that I love which tells the story of someone rowing across the estuary to fetch his loved one.


It was a pleasure to be reminded of the song when I found it. But, my goodness, as I searched for it in my file boxes – now would it be in the box labelled Wales, which is full of Welsh stories and stuff about Welsh places, or in the box labelled Songs, Poems, Sayings? – I had such a weird combination of feelings. Past and future swirled around in my mind. Which items had I previously used in my storytelling work? Which could be good in the future? I felt a bit like Janus, the ancient Roman deity who, as my Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable reminds me, was the guardian of gates and doors and, for this reason, represented with two faces, one in front and one behind.

The god with two faces:

Perhaps Janus is a perfect symbol for this point in the year where we’re all poised between past and future. The trouble is that, at the very same time, we’re all inclined to be too busy. Thinking about Christmas cards we’ve written or not yet done, presents we’ve purchased or are still to be got, phone calls made or yet to be made, life becomes quite hectic. At points, it can seem quite out of control. So perhaps you’re beginning to feel like me.  I have a great need for some peace. For that reason I was hugely delighted when, searching through those file boxes, I came across a photocopy of a poem of which I’d never taken much heed before. I’m going to keep it with me over the next week because it’s exactly what I need right now. It’s by a poet called Wendell Berry.

The Peace of Wild Things:

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

PS: Pointers to the future? Reflections on the past? My two photos today were both taken at quiet times in Pembrokeshire.  They come with my very best wishes for Christmas and New Year 2020 and also my thanks for reading my blog.

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