In July I went to the National Storyteller Conference in Oklahoma City.
I was excited.This was my first conference. I was looking forward to stories, workshops and meeting other tellers from all across the United States.
To my surprise the most impressive thing for me in OKC was the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial.
What ever I had read about the memorial had not prepared me for the power of it - the memorial is art at its finest and turns a site of horror into sacred space and a fitting memorial for the 168 lives lost there.
The adjacent museum skillfully puts you right back into the moment of the explosion and then moves you through the next hours and days with the families and people of Oklahoma City. It takes you INTO the story.
The conference planner also arranged for some of the survivors to come to the conference to tell their stories in person. Their stories were moving and powerfully demonstrated the healing power of story. I will never forget the experience.
Maryland storyteller, Ab Logan, told me next day that he had gone back to the memorial in the evening- "don't miss it." I am grateful to him.
I left the hotel in the dark for my "dawn" plane back to Dulles so I asked the taxi driver to take me to the memorial on the way to the airport. He waited while I went in. I felt a catch in my throat as I walked through the 9:03 portal at one end of the dark reflecting pool. The chairs on the grassy rise were lighted individually - must be an up light in the ground below - the
translucent bases were glowing and the names which are etched in the base of each chair were clearly visible - shining.
Story and art - powerful partners.