Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
• Psalm 78:1-4
Ray wrote a lovely book that is the namesake for the retreat he will offer: Dancing with Words: Storytelling as Legacy, Culture and Faith. Here are some selections from the book's introduction to whet our appetites for the wisdom and chance for connection that our time with Ray will hold:
Growing up, I would listen to our Lakota elders speaking of their life experiences. In the stories they told and in the way they greeted each other were three beautiful words heard over and over. In her beautiful book Bead on an Anthill, Delphine Red Shirt place them together. Seeing those words together, almost like a poem, has placed them indelibly in my memory. I never think of them apart from one another.
Weksuye – I remember
Ciksuye – I remember you
Miksuye – Remember me
Somewhere in the process of storytelling, the story becomes memory. If the story has connected with our spirits, then that memory is the gift of the storyteller. We are able to say: I remember. This is a part of me. These are things of importance to me…. Weksuye. I remember.
I remember you. I remember how you moved and spoke. I remember the things you did, the words you chose, and how you believed. I remember the essence of who you were. I remember you, though we were generations apart. You have become part of my active memory and have impacted the things that I celebrate, enjoy, and believe. I remember you, because others remembered you and kept you alive. Chiksuye. I remember you.
Remember me. I tell you of the things I feel and have experienced. They are part of who I am. When the living reminders of my life have passed on, these are the songs, words, events, prayers, actions, joys, sorrows, triumphs, defeats, dances, and solitary movements that have been a part of me. These things have become part of the story. If they have value for you, in whatever time and place you find yourself – remember me. Miksuye. Remember me.
Come and sit a while. Listen to the things I want to tell you. Listen with your whole being. I want to tell you a story. A story that begins in times we can no longer see clearly. It is a story of things that we have heard and known for ourselves. It is a story that our ancestors began. We must tell the story so that the children of their children's children will know it. We will tell our children of all the things that God has done, both glorious and might.
Here is a link to the audio of a moving talk Ray gave a few years ago to a gathering of young people. It is long, but do listen all the way through. You'll moved by his stories and hopefully you'll see the gentle power those stories will bring to his week with us this summer.