THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE: TURNING TO PEACE AND JUSTICE THROUGH DIGITAL STORYTELLING
Embarking on the Quest for the Elixir of Life
An ethereal spark was lit within the story circle as fifteen undergraduate faces of multiple backgrounds and experiences began their quests to find their own water of life or, in alchemical terms, the elixir of life known as the philosopher’s stone:
“While taking care of my sick mother, I think I discovered what it means to care for someone,” Isabelle said looking anxiously around the circle of faces nodding in response to her story about how she had to take care of her mother, who had been in the hospital for an extended amount of time.
“I know it’s not the same thing, but I think I have similar feelings about my puppy when I take care of her,” Nelly replied breaking the sustained silence of the story circle. “I mean when I take care of him, I don’t think about myself…it’s [the caring] authentic.”
“So what does authentic care look like and how can we apply it to our digital media projects?” I asked.
“I’m not sure, but it reminds me of the youngest brother in the Water of Life story. He succeeded in finding the water of life because he authentically cared for his sick father (the king),” another student reported.
“Well, let’s start there,” I replied:
When the second prince had thus been gone a long time, the youngest son said he would go and search for the Water of Life, and trusted he should soon be able to make his father well again. So he set out, and the dwarf met him too at the same spot in the valley, among the mountains, and said, ’Prince, whither so fast?’ And the prince said, ’I am going in search of the Water of Life, because my father is ill, and like to die: can you help me? Pray be kind, and aid me if you can!’ ’Do you know where it is to be found?’ asked the dwarf. ’No,’ said the prince, ’I do not. Pray tell me if you know.’ ’Then as you have spoken to me kindly, and are wise enough to seek for advice, I will tell you how and where to go. The water you seek springs from a well in an enchanted castle; and, that you may be able to reach it in safety, I will give you an iron wand and two little loaves of bread;
strike the iron door of the castle three times with the wand, and it will open: two hungry lions will be lying down inside gaping for their prey, but if you throw them the bread they will let you pass; then hasten on to the well, and take some of the Water of Life before the clock strikes twelve; for if you tarry longer the door will shut upon you forever.’ (Grimm Brothers, n.d.)
These large life-quests entail several developments in our understanding of our experiences with oral narrative, our experiences mediating these experiences into re-imagined tales, and an experience in reflecting on their place in narrative and the world. Thus, in order to know where to go and how to find it, we need to be wise enough to ask for advice and speak kindly in doing so. This is how we begin to transmute the narratives of our lives into “golden” narratives in order to “make” our “fathers well again.”