by Sue Ann Rybak
“Hope is a necessity, not a luxury,” said Margaret Dulaney, founder of the spoken-word website, Listen Well, which offers reflective stories of insight, wisdom and humor. “It’s like clean water. We can’t live without it, and stories are powerful vehicles for that precious necessity.”
Dulaney, 59, of Bucks County, will present “Exploring Faith Through Story and Metaphor” at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 15, at the Center for Contemporary Mysticism, 22 East Chestnut Hill Ave.
Janet Mather, a spokeswoman for The Center for Contemporary Mysticism, said the center opened in the fall of 2013 and is now in its second year of operation providing speakers and offering classes, which are free and open to the public. “The mission of the center,” said Mather, “is to provide a safe forum for those interested in better understanding spiritual and mystical experiences which occur every day in the lives of ordinary citizens.”
Dulaney said the universal appeal behind her spoken-word website, Listen Well, “is the great power of the personal story and its ability to lift the listener into hope. I love a good story of transcendence, one that lifts me up onto its shoulders so that I can have a better view, one that elevates me. A story is often allowed entrance into the soul where doctrine is turned away at the gates.”
Dulaney gave the example of a woman who recently lost her partner and then hears the story of a widower’s journey back to “a full and joyful life.”
“The woman listens and allows him entrance to her mind. When the story the widower tells offers her hope, she opens the door a little wider, allowing it entrance to her heart. When the conclusion of the story is one of transcendence over pain, she will carry it away with her, like a beautifully wrapped present. She will look for another with whom to share this gift. For this reason I encourage people to tell their own stories of triumph over pain, despair, and not to be shy. Someone might benefit from the telling.”
Dulaney, who is also a playwright, started writing faith-based essays after she moved to Bucks County.
“I didn’t know where to place them since they were rather quirky, and then I thought, ‘Why not speak them?’” Every month Dulaney posts recorded pieces that “attempt to circle a spiritual principal with the use of story and metaphor.” She credits her grandmother, Jane Norton, who had a near-death experience in her 30s, with her desire to “embrace the shared wisdom of all faiths.
“She studied the writings of Rudolf Steiner for much of her life and was greatly influenced by his mystical view of the world, which was reflected in her intuitive work as an artist. The main thing I learned from her is that the spiritual world is constantly guiding and aiding us, and the other thing she convinced me of is to have no fear of death. She lived a wonderful long life, but she wasn’t afraid of death. She looked forward to it. As so many near-death experiencers say, she described it as ‘absolutely blissful.’”
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