Between the Listening and the Telling: How Stories Can Save Us

Amy Pagliarella reviews Mark Yaconelli's new book.

Mark Yaconelli
Broadleaf Books, 208 pages | Published August 9, 2022

Any parent who has ever curled up with a child in their lap and a picture book will tell you that stories are irresistible. Once upon a time, my preschool-age son would ask, “tell me a story from your mouth.” I would gladly comply, weaving fanciful, made-up stories that conveyed the very real truths I wanted my children to hold in their souls.

Mark Yaconelli knows the power of stories. In Between the Listening and the Telling, he connects his own heartbreaking narrative to the winsome stories of others and the divine, before describing practical processes of asking the questions that invite others to find and tell their stories. His beautiful book comes to life with numerous illustrations — a town processes its grief following a mass shooting, immigrants find their voices, folks overcome childhoods of neglect or failed marriages as well as light-hearted recollections of stories shared over a beer or communal meal.

“The stories we tell often mirror the values we hold and the world we seek to create,” Yaconelli writes, which is why people of faith gather to hear the same stories and imagine fresh applications for our lives today. This tender book invites us to create vulnerable and life-giving spaces in which to spill our own stories and to stumble onto each other’s deepest and truest selves.

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