The Good Shepherd

I would like to say something about breath pacing, and about texts that we can recite to a dying Person.
I knew Mrs. Seiberth, and we had liked each other. I knew that she was a religious woman and that she wished that her son would come and see her. Asked why he doesn’t come she said: “He’s living far away. – But also, he is afraid of seeing me so sick.” When I was visiting her now she was in coma. She looked into an empty space. With every breath she made a coughing sound. I put my hands on her arm. Calm and slowly, with long pauses in the pace of her breath I recited the psalm of the good shepherd. Her breath went calmer and the coughing noise went silent. But at the words “thy rod and staff they comfort me” the coughing came back. Maybe they reminded her of something that made her sad? The concept of systematic desensitation of fears came to my mind. So I repeated these very words so often in a very calm and friendly tone till the coughing disappeared again. Then I continued. At the words “in the presence of my enemies” the coughing came back. I did the same procedure of repeating the words in a friendly tone till the coughing was gone and she was breathing calmly. At the words “Goodness and mercy will follow me all my life” her breath got even calmer. So I repeated these words many times till it got even calmer. I finished the Psalm and said “I would like to say bye-bye now.” Immediately the coughing noise came back and continued with every breath. “I will come back, I will come back, I will come back…” I said, and the noise disappeared. The next day I visited her I read the same psalm to her. Her breath was calm and silent all the time. Only when I said that now I would leave the coughing noise came back. “I come again, I come again, I come again…” I said till it was calm again. The next day I was about ninety minutes later than on the previous days. Entering her room I saw a man who introduced himself as her son. “She’s died an hour ago.” He said. „Was she still alive when you came?“ „Yes“, he said. (Stefan Hammel, Handbook of Therapeutic Storytelling, Karnac, London 2017/18)

La flor en la isla

En una pequeña isla en medio del océano extenso crecía una hermosa flor amarilla de oro. Nadie sabía cómo había llegado allí, porque en esta isla no había ninguna flor aparte de ella. Las gaviotas venían volando para contemplar este milagro con asombro. “Es linda como el sol”, decían. Los peces venían nadando. Levantaban las cabezas encima del agua para admirarla. “Es linda como un coral”, decían. Un cangrejo salió a la tierra para mirarla. “Es linda como una perla en el suelo del mar”, dijo. Y todos venían casi cada día para admirar esta flor.

Un día, cuando volvieron para contemplar la flor, se encontraron con que los pétalos dorados de la flor se habían vuelto marones y secos. “Ay de nosotros”, dijeron las gaviotas, los peces y el cangrejo. “El sol quemó nuestra flor. ¿Quién ahora nos refrescará el corazón?”. Y todos se pusieron tristes.

Pero algunos días más tarde apareció en lugar de la flor una maravillosa bola de color blanco tierno. “¿Qué es eso?”, preguntaron los animales. “Es tan blando como una nube”, dijeron las gaviotas. “Es tan ligero como la espuma de las olas”, dijeron los peces. “Es tan fino como el resplandor del sol en la arena”, dijo el cangrejo. Y todos los animales se alegraron.

En este momento un golpe de viento barrió la isla y sopló este milagro blanco dispersándolo por ella en miles de copos. “Ay de nosotros”, hablaron las gaviotas, los peces y el cangrejo. “El viento ha dispersado nuestra bola. ¿Qué alegrará nuestro ánimo ahora?” Y todos estaban tristes entonces.

Un día por la mañana, al levantarse el sol sobre la mar, allí en la luz dorada matinal relucieron cientos y cientos de hermosas flores color amarillo de oro. Entonces bailaron las gaviotas en el cielo y los peces en el agua, y el cangrejo bailó con sus amigos una danza de rueda en medio de las flores, y todos se alegraron.

(Por Stefan Hammel, traducción: Bettina Betz)

Midsummer Night’s Dream

Another beautiful story by Katharina Lamprecht

One day, it was Midsummer and the Swedish days where as long as the dinner table for the king’s birthday. A wise old moose on his evening stroll met a young boy, sitting on a moss covered tree trunk, sobbing deeply. The old moose stopped and looked at the boy who did not notice him because of all his despair. Not until the moose nudged him with his soft muzzle did the boy raise his eyes. And just in front of him he saw the big brown eyes of the moose. He saw in those eyes all the stars in the heavens that he could not see before on this Midsummer night. So big, so deep and so endless the eyes seemed to be that he got the feeling he could just take a walk right into them. The stars where so beautiful, like jewels, iridescent and glittering in all colors he could imagine, scattered like the crumbles on grandma’s apple-pie, big ones and small ones, thick and thin ones, each of them meaningful and unique. At the sight of all those treasures the boy got the feeling he was surrounded by good friends, who bestowed upon him potency and love.

So they stood for a long time and looked at each other, the young boy and the old moose. Then the moose blew his warm and soft breath through the boy’s hair, turned around and faded into the forest. The boy looked after him for a long time, as if in trance, and only after a while did he discover that his infinite sadness had transformed. It was still there but all of a sudden there was also a happiness and cheerfulness. And he somehow felt that this had something to do with the stars he had seen in the fathomless eyes of the old moose.

He turned around and walked back home. And whistling happily away he kicked at the stones that laid on his way.

Après la vague

Quelqu’un m’a écrit : »J’ai été chargé de préparer un séminaire d’aide à soi-même ayant pour sujet « l’angoisse ». Tous les participants souffrent d’une épilepsie. Auriez-vous quelques idées sur les histoires que je pourrais y raconter ayant pour sujet l’imprévisibilité des crises et la détresse qui y est liée ? »

Ma réponse fut la suivante : »Je propose que vous racontiez quelque chose sur les habitants de quelques villages sur la côte ayant survécu au grand tsunami il y a quelques années. Ils ont été pour ainsi dire des témoins qui s’en sont sortis avec plus de peur que de mal. Les habitants d’un village ont toujours regardé la mer avec les nerfs à vif en attendant la grande vague suivante. Ils ont organisé toute leur vie de manière à y être préparés. On pourrait dire aussi qu’ils ont gâché toute leur vie avec cette préparation. Et la mer était presque toujours calme… Les habitants d’un village voisin y ont vécu presque comme si rien ne s’était passé. En abordant les dangers de la mer ils disaient : « Si nous partons, nous partons. Mais maintenant nous sommes là, complètement. » Et il y avait d’autres villages … Vous pouvez dessiner une carte sur un tableau à feuilles mobiles sur lequel ces villages sont représentés. Demandez aux participants de vous dire dans lequel des deux villages ils veulent vivre, ou comment vivent les habitants dans un troisième et quatrième village, ou alors où les participants du séminaire si ça se trouve aimeraient mieux vivre. Demandez aux participants ce que signifie ce contact souhaitable avec la mer, à quoi on le reconnait et à quoi est dû le fait que les villageois mènent une vie d’assez bonne qualité malgré l’ancien tsunami. Vous pouvez demander aux participants de dessiner d’autres villages pour d’autres comportements avec la mer qui est rarement sauvage et dans la plus part des cas calme. Vous pouvez demander aux participants de dessiner le comportement avec la mer sur la carte ou, si la carte est placée au sol, de le marquer avec des maisons de Monopoly. Il serait aussi possible de marquer le site actuel avec le comportement d’une mer qui est rarement sauvage et la plus part du temps calme et de marquer le site souhaité et de réfléchir pour savoir qui et quoi peuvent les aider à déménager du domicile A vers B. »

¿Dónde están las estrellas durante el día?

Ella tiene dos años y muchas preguntas. “¿Dónde están las estrellas durante el día?”, por ejemplo le pregunta a su padre.
“En el cielo”, contesta este, “así como por la noche.”
“¿Entonces están apagadas? Es que no brillan para nada.”
“¡Claro que sí! Siguen brillando. Pero el sol es tan luminoso que ya no se ve la pequeña luz de las estrellas. Es como cuando ya no oyes música baja si de repente alguien pone en marcha una máquina ruidosa. La música baja todavía está, solo ya no se la percibe. La música está acallada y las estrellas están deslumbradas.”
Ella piensa un momento y dice: “Ahora sé también donde están mis sueños durante el día cuando estoy despierta.”

(Por Stefan Hammel, traduccíon: Bettina Betz)

Des pieds engourdis

Un jour d’hiver alors que tu as fait une longue randonnée, il peut arriver que tu ne sentes plus tes pieds. Et au début quand tu arrives au chaud tes pieds sont encore engourdis. Peut-être les poses-tu sur un radiateur – ce qui est bizarre c’est qu’ils commencent juste à faire mal une fois que le froid est passé et non avant dans la glace et la neige. Un fou pourrait dire : je ne décongèle pas mes pieds alors ils ne font pas mal. Pourtant celui qui a de l’expérience sait : La chaleur endolorit les pieds froids seulement un moment. Il faut dépasser cette phase. Une fois la douleur surmontée on passe à un moment de chaleur agréable.

Everything Else

In a land in our time there lived a man, who read a book and found lots of wonderful stories therein. There were true and invented stories, experienced and pensive, enjoyable and painful stories. There were stories which contained stories, and such which were actually not stories. For every story he read, there occurred to him nearly five which he had either experienced or thought up himself. So the thought came to him, that a lot in the world was a story which could be healing for himself and others; he only needed to absorb the healing stories well and to forget the terrible ones immediately. Then he would learn which story he had used when and for what. So he organised his own stories which he knew, and which had become a help to himself and others, or could become so. Sometimes he noted it down when a new story came to his ears and sometimes when a helpful story occurred to him, he memorised it.

Then he saw before him in a picture the storystories of this life arranged in long shelves, as in a large pharmacy. And behind the counter there sat a man who had learnt to listen to himself and others. He was a master of his subjectspecialty. His talent was that he understood how to tell the right thing at the right time to himself and to those who visited him.

Forgiving the Russian

In my village there is an old man, who again and again tells of how he fled with nothing more than the shirt on his back, because the occupying Russian troops had taken everything he owned and his house and yard in order to give it to others. He said: “I cannot forgive the Russians.” The man lives in a beautiful house with a balcony and a large garden. His favourite pastime is watching his great-grandchildren play.