Shonaleigh's presence brings with it her bubbe
's presence - both women being bearers of a living tradition of oral storytelling with a highly developed craft, a discipline, and a strong midrashic (commentary) tradition. This is living wisdom. And stories come to life in Shonaleigh. As a Drut'syla, Shonaleigh tells the stories the audience needs to hear. She is at their service. And while Shonaleigh often tells stories to audiences that want
to hear her stories, I've noticed that Shonaleigh seems happiest telling to audiences that need
to hear her stories. Often the reasons for a request are not clear at the time, but they may become clear later – a seed is planted in fertile soil, where it is allowed to bloom and flourish, to achieve inner growth and transformation through revelation. Back to Socrates again.
Shonaleigh's outward view is different. "Why do we tell stories? To make people happy," she said to me when I first met her: words of wisdom that resonate like a note sounded from a ram's horn, pointed at the moon - a deep, rich note, with overtones that reach deep into the soul and extend far out into the cosmos, connecting both through story.
This phenomenon of a story being planted within a person where it remains to emerge at the right time reminds me of a story told by Senegalese storyteller, Sory Camara, another living tradition holder, of how the story of 'the Most Ancient Word' was planted within him by Pathmaster Kandara Koyi, who, 'in his time he was the youngest and most precocious of the Most Ancient Masters'. Just when Koyi saw that Camara had abandoned his quest, he told him the story of 'the Most Ancient Word' within an epic story of the history of their people, the Mandinka, and left it to germinate within him, to be realised just when he needed it most.Back to top of page