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James Cook column: The power of stories

One of the qualities that Rowan Regional Medical Center prides itself on is the remarkable stories and relationships we develop with our patients and each other.
We have a story to tell in this community.
I could share many stories where we have brought in someoneís pet when a patient was dying, lonely or missing her dog/cat; given a makeover to a woman who had been in accident, faced pneumonia and had recently experienced a separation; provided love and support to a mother who lost her child; given a celebratory dinner for a couple with 65 years of marriage ; offered gourmet meals to new parents; prayed as a circle of friends for a co-worker undergoing surgery; or simply held someoneís hand.
Stories bring to us healing, laughter, connection, value, perspective, vision, inspiration, influence, persuasion, feelings, opinions and emotions. Annette Simmons in her book ěThe Story Factorî says, ěStories are more true than facts, because stories are multidimensional. Facts need the context of when, who and where to become Truths. A story incorporates when and who, lasting minutes, generations, and narrating event or series of events with characters, actions, and consequences. Even if a story is not literally true, it is a very good representation of what is True because it can weave the relational aspects of facts with space, time and values.î Remember Paul Harvey who spent 30 years ětelling us the rest of the storyî?
Can you count the number of stories that you hear in a day or that you share with those around you? ěStories donít grab power. Stories create power.î Have you ever listened to a 5-year-old tell a story? I havenít forgotten some of my kidsí stories. All of us have a life story to share, some long, some short, some funny, some sad, and some are just amazing.
When a patient comes into the hospital, we realize they have a story to share with us. We want both patient and staff to make sense of the illness, chaos, drama, pain, suffering and even funny life experiences to give people a plot to their story and experience. We can assist in reframing the story to help with the frustration, pain, suffering, mystery and bring about healing. It is our job in healthcare to realize that without a story to hear, facts donít mean as much. In daily life we are sometimes the audience and sometimes the storyteller in our work, churches, in our families and our community. With whom do you share your stories? Who will be a witness to your story? By sharing and listening to someoneís story, you then become a part of the story. What stories will you be a part of in 2011?
Jesus knew that participating in life stories would bring value and a message to others. A message of love, hope, grace, joy and even suffering. Stories are the best way to teach others and bring healing and connection. The Bible is full of stories to learn from and guide us. Stories are lasting impressions that can mold our thinking and way of life. Take the risk, time and opportunity to share or listen to someoneís story ó Jesus would.
The Rev. James Cook is chaplain at Rowan Regional Medical Center.

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