A quick note to say I so appreciated your "gift" at First Parish of Sudbury this morning. Your stories (and the pearls of wisdom in between) were what I call "real usable stuff". Thank you.
-- A. K. (Parishioner - Sudbury First Parish, Sudbury, MA.)
“It takes a gifted person to be able to "see" into a story and lift out the deepest meanings. Elisa is that kind of person.”
-- Rev. Jeffrey Johnson, UCC Milton, MA
Wisdom Tales – Storytelling in Religious Settings
Elisa Pearmain has been telling stories in churches for over twenty years. Her first book Doorways to the Soul: 52 Wisdom Tales from around the World (1998) contains 52 short tales from different spiritual, religious and folk traditions designed to be read one per week with exercises to deepen our connection to the wisdom in the stories, and to foster personal and spiritual growth. Her second book Once Upon a Time: Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying is a favorite in RE classrooms. Elisa is an author for the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Tapestry of Faith curriculum and continues as a story consultant. She leads services for families, adults and children, and offers workshops to all of those groups and RE teachers as well.
Please check out her article "Feeding the Spirit: How Wisdom Tales Become Our Teachers”.
Elisa’s “Wisdom Tales” Programs
Elisa offers storytelling programs for all ages in religious settings. This includes programs for children and families in and out of the sanctuary, and “story-sermon’s” for adults in the sanctuary. Family programs are also available for other church functions.
Adults: Story sermons are programs consisting of stories from several spiritual traditions presented on a theme with a small amount of commentary to join them together. Examples of themes include: Mindfulness, forgiveness, facing our fears and courage, gratitude, stories as doorways to spiritual growth, earth stewardship and community building. Elisa is often asked to design the whole service, from opening words, to responsive readings to closing words. Your church can provide the theme.
Children and/or Family Audiences: Elisa tells folk tales from multiple spiritual and cultural sources on themes related to kindness, non-violent conflict resolution, cooperation, peace and justice, and earth stewardship. She can tell to large and small groups. Her story programs involve the children and often culminate in the whole group standing and telling a story together.
Holiday Programs: Elisa also offers special programs for holiday time such as winter solstice, Advent, and Christmas Eve. At Christmas time she tells her original story of the “Shepherd Boy’s Gift”, which tells the Christmas story from the point of view of a shepherd boy who gives the gift of care for his wounded lamb to Jesus, and Mary tells him that love is the greatest gift of all. This story is often broken into three parts with carols sung by the congregation in between each break.
Elisa offers the following workshops for adults, Religious Educators and Ministers, children and families.
Religious Educators and Laity
A storytelling course for more effectively sharing stories with children and examples of drama exercises to follow the stories that deepen the children’s connection to the themes presented. We can work ith stories from your curriculum. 90-120 minutes. (Adults)
Elisa came to our church to train the RE teachers in storytelling. After the workshop my teaching improved substantially. I felt liberated to take chances on my delivery - to the benefit of my audience, and I've been having so much more fun! Our second graders never sat through Bible stories with such rapt attention. Their comprehension has improved as well as their ability to understand the stories on a more human level. The transformation has been fairly incredible.
Sandy F. Trinitarian Church, Concord, MA
Forgiveness: Telling our Stories in New Ways – a 90 minute to 5 hour workshop
Forgiveness is an integral part of the emotional, spiritual and even physical healing process, and yet it is poorly understood. It offers an opportunity to look at and relate to our stories of wounding in new ways. It calls us to see those who have hurt us with more complexity and compassion. It guides us to forgive ourselves, to let go of the role of victim, and ultimately to live and love more fully. In this experiential workshop, participants will explore through the medium of story what forgiveness is, its gifts for daily living and spiritual growth. Elisa will share several folk tales and personal stories related to the forgiveness process and will guide participants through storytelling and writing exercises to learn from and share their stories of forgiveness. No storytelling experience necessary.
Storytelling As Prayer
A wise man once said, ‘the shortest distance between truth and the human heart is a story.’
In this workshop we will explore practices through storytelling that invite prayerfulness, presence and gratitude, as well as ways of living in a compassionate and prayerful state with others. We will encounter stories from a variety of spiritual traditions, gleaning and planting their wisdom seeds for our own growth and joy. We will also remember and re-examine our personal stories for new evidence of grace, will share them with one another, and develop practices for drawing on these stories as prayer in our daily lives.
Elisa’s book, Doorways to the Soul: 52 Wisdom Tales from around the World, to be used during the workshop.
"Elisa is so knowledgeable and nurturing. She really helps students
to find stories within themselves and to tell with confidence".
Storytelling as Prayer participant
Shaping and Sharing Our Stories of Grace
This is a workshop for ministers, religious educators, and adults on remembering, shaping and finding deeper spiritual meaning in our personal stories. Elisa will share a personal story and demonstrate how she found deeper spiritual meaning in the story and made it more meaningful to others. Then she will lead participants in shaping and sharing their own spiritual tales. No storytelling experience in necessary. This is a great workshop for building a stronger community. As participants hear one another’s stories deep bonds are formed. 120-180 minutes. (Adults)
A Trunk Full of Tales
A community building workshop for families. In this workshop members of the congregation of all ages (5-105) hear Elisa tell a family story about an object of value to her family, and a lesson learned. Then Elisa guides participants to share something that has been handed down or given to them and to tell the story behind it. This can happen in large or small groups. In the process congregants get to know one another better and have a satisfying experience of storytelling and listening. 90-120 minutes. (Families)
Once Upon a Present Moment
Mindfulness and meditation principles in practice and daily living taught through short Buddhist tales and exercises. 90-120 minutes. (Adults)
Doorways to the Soul: Wisdom Tales for Spiritual Growth
This is a workshop or short course in which participants work with short tales from many spiritual traditions to deepen spiritual growth. (Adults)
I Wonder Tales
This is a workshop for children that promotes honoring and wondering about natural phenomenon by making and sharing stories to explain nature creatively. 60-90 minutes. (Best for grades 2-4)