30 June 2013

Stories from Silence

Earlier this week, David invited me to come along with him for a work thing. Since this was the first time I've been able to accept an invitation on a Thursday evening, and there was the promise of free food (YAV life!), I accepted the vague invitation and hopped in the WAVE minibus with no idea what to expect.

It turns out, the event was the launching of a website, Stories from Silence, that is the culmination of a storytelling project documenting those injured or bereaved as a result of "the Troubles" here in Northern Ireland. The theme of the evening was stories by those who had lost children during the conflict. While David's placement allows him to have frequent interaction with these topics, this was the first time I'd heard stories like this discussed openly. The culture here in many ways encourages those who have had a difficult time to keep it to themselves, part of what leads to such high rates of suicide and depression. Luckily, places like the WAVE Trauma Centre are here to encourage people to tell their stories and talk about their feelings.

I had the powerful experience of sitting next to a man called Michael as his story was played for the crowd. Although the Troubles are officially over, it is important to remember that the pain is still incredibly real for the people who lost their loved ones during this time. I encourage you to visit http://storiesfromsilence.com and listen to a few of them for a better idea of what many people we know here in Belfast have been through.

The event also featured popular folk singer Tommy Sands as he used his method of music and storytelling for healing. He was kind enough to speak to David and I at length after the event. I couldn't find any of the songs he sang on YouTube, but here is a little taste of his music:

The Music of Healing
Tommy Sands

Ah, the heart's a wonder
Stronger than the guns of thunder
Even when we're torn asunder
Love will come again

Don't beat the drum, that frightens the children
Don't sing the songs about winning and losing
Sit down beside me, the green fields are bleeding
Sing me the music of healing

Sing me a song of a lover returning
The darker the night, the nearer the morning
Bring me the news of a new day that's dawning
Sing me the music of healing

Sometimes the truth's like a hare in the cornfield
You know that it's there but you can't put your arms around it
All we can hope for is follow its footprints
Sing me the music of healing

Who would have thought I could feel so contented
To learn I was wrong after all of my rambles
I've learned to be hard and I've learned how to tremble
Sing me the music of healing

Somehow the cycle of vengeance keeps turning
Till each other's sorrows and songs we start learning
Peace is the prize for those who are daring
Sing me the music of healing

Time is your friend, it cures all your sorrows
But how can I wait till another tomorrow
One step today and a thousand will follow
Sing me the music of healing

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