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Monday, January 6, 2014

Please Tell Me Another Story

By Steve Poole

Within seconds of entering the taxi at Belfast City Airport, I was already being regaled with my first story.  It started as a recollection of the driver's new year's eve antics the night before and quickly moved into the story of what had kept this young man in Belfast through difficult times and his hope for the future.  I spent the night thinking about what his childhood and young adult life might have been like and the commitment it had taken to stay in his home city.

The next morning I took another taxi back to the airport to make my connection to Derry.  Again the stories began.  The driver with stories about his travels to America and then told me the story of friends who had lost their green cards in the states after 9/11 and how beautiful Belfast is when it snows.  I was so enamored that I hadn't realized that we had arrived at the airport and we were just sitting in the car with the meter off, until he finished his story.

The next day as we embarked on our walking tour of the wall in Derry, again we were rewarded with a cascade of rich stories.  They were stories of humor and history, painful memories and dreams for the future.

As we walked through the area known as
Bogside, a neighborhood which played such a significant role in the "troubles", we walked past the People's Gallery.  These murals tell the story of some of the significant moments of the struggles in Derry and their stories stand as a memorial to the past and a vision for the future. 

I walked away from that tour with just a small taste for what life in Derry might have been like, and an enormous thirst to learn more about this amazing city and the people and history of Northern Ireland.  Through these stories I have been reminded of a chaplain friend of mine who used to say, "people can't really heal until someone truly understands how deep the pain was."  The beauty of stories is that the healing comes in both the telling and the listening. My prayer is that these stories may continue to lead to a path of peace.  I eagerly look forward to the next story.

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