Reading to Others & Wordless Storytelling – July 18, 2017

Words are so much a part of our every day lives, though thinking back over history this has not always been.  In years gone by there were few daily instances where most people were required to read as much as we are today.  Perhaps the daily newspaper, some ledgers, and occasional item in the mail, a catalogue or broadside were the bulk of a persons reading.  A label on a product, perhaps a handed down family recipe on a decorated card, or an heirloom letter from previous generations. Of course if there were property there would be a deed or even a wedding certificate which would indicate possible transfer of titles if such occurred. There were perhaps death and birth certificates, though usually these were not in individual possession. Today however the written word is everywhere, all around us, ever present, and always demanding.  Perhaps this accounts for why TV can be so compelling for some; simple escape from written words.

The other day I offered for your consideration a children’s book almost exclusively dedicated to words. Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People is filled with long strands of words often long ribbons of color, assembled without regard to grammar or even structure.  

Today I present to you a wordless book Flashlight by Lizi Boyd.

Inside a tent it’s cozy. But what is going on outside? Is it dark? Is it scary? Not if you have your trusty flashlight! Told solely through images and using a spare yet dramatic palette, artist Lizi Boyd has crafted a masterful exploration of night, nature, and art. Both lyrical and humorous, this visual poem—like the flashlight beam itself—reveals that there is magic in the darkness. We just have to look for it.

I am a firm believer in the power and benefit of reading to others.  Generally when people think of reading to someone it is a parent reading to a child. Reading to others is a wonderful, therapeutic, recharging, connecting activity for all ages.  Spouses reading to each other, even for short passages can offer time for mutual reflection, or escape, and the chance to connect in much deeper ways than sitting in a space watching a television. Laughing at the same lines on a TV program is not the same as listening to a spouse read to you and then the two of you taking time to laugh and re-laugh at some absurdity just read or thought of in response to the reading.  The shared reading experience generates more self motivated connecting moments between two or more individuals than perhaps most things we engage in these days.

I wonder if simply for the delight of a slower pace and the challenge of removing obstacles to deep connections how many people would be willing to read a story to someone other than a child?  Even simply to consider this notion and not simply shrug it off is a step forward.  And then, how would you imagine the reading of this delightful story Flashlight which has no words?


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About Ryusho 龍昇

Nichiren Shu Buddhist priest. My home temple is Myosho-ji, Wonderful Voice Temple, in Charlotte, NC. You may visit the temple’s web page by going to I am also training at Carolinas Medical Center as a Chaplain intern. It is my hope that I eventually become a Board Certified Chaplain. Currently I am also taking healing touch classes leading to become a certified Healing Touch Practitioner. I do volunteer work with the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network (you may learn more about them by following the link) caring for individuals who are HIV+ or who have AIDS/SIDA.