What do Mark Dyer and Hans Selye have in common? That is what I am about to demonstrate as a way of explaining metaphorical patterns.
Metaphorical patterns are embedded in our stories as iambic pentameter is embedded in poetry written in that metre. The same for different hymns when the same words can be moved to sing different tunes. The tunes, though different, are in the same metre.
I did that with Simon and Garfunkal/s Sound of Silence. I found the pattern of the words were the same as Isaiah’s Song of the Vineyard. “My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill …” (Isaiah 5:1-7)
Back to Dyer and Selye.
First, the Mark Dyer story. Mark, a former Dominican priest, came to the Diocese of Iowa many years ago when he was with the Diocese of Massachusetts. He gave a talk on the four characteristics of Spirituality as part of a Second Mile Series. He told stories to get his message across. Two weeks later I was listening to Dr. Hans Selye, the father of strees research, where he was telling stories about his discovery of the stress response syndrome (SRS).
Amazingly, he told stories in a similar manner as Mark Dyer. They both used stories to get their message across. They are not presenting a rational argument point by point, they are story-tellers.
I had the good fortune of being invited to be part of a small luncheon group with Dr. Selye. I shared how I was struck by the similarity in his presentations and Mark Dyer’s, having a Dominican background. He said they were hid early teachers but I didn't think they had any influence on his life. Well that set off a more involved conversation with Dr.Selye including his offer to send me a prayer he had written. I accepted and he took my address. A few weeks later I receive the prayer in the mail and much to my surprise the Dominicans had influenced him in more ways than he could acknowledge. The prayer was in the form of a lament Psalm. I have his autographed copy. I am sure he heard the lament pattern in the chapel more than once at the Dominican school.
When Mark began his work with Virginia Theological Seminary, then as a retired Bishoop I sent the story to him and he sent a card back with one word, paragranatio.
I have this interest in Celtic Spirituality. Paragranatio means, “to journey with God, not knowing where you are going, but you will find out when you get there.” And the patterns will be in evidence at the same time.
To be continued,
Marlin Whitmer, BCC, ret.
Founder of the Befrienders in 1966 and the art of story metaphor listening in 1975.