Photo Toni Reynolds

Stories and Spells


In writing the lyrics to “Children Will Listen” for the musical Into the Woods, Stephen Sondheim wanted to convey the power of a story. Sondheim reminds us that stories are like spells and our lives are the expression of the stories that have been handed down to us.   


“Careful the spell you cast not just on children

sometimes a spell may last past what you can see

And turn against you.

careful the tale you tell that is the spell. Children will listen.”


His lyrics ask us to reflect on which stories we are choosing to tell others.


Both Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel claimed the Exodus story as a primary guide for their justice work. A singular friendship between them emerged from this common source of inspiration. Together they were messengers for God’s presence in liberation. If we have made progress in the last century, it is in large part, because they found ways of telling the Exodus story anew through their protests and their teachings.


Take a moment to bring to mind the stories you lean on and the ones you choose to tell others. When we become aware of our stories, we gain insight into the way we move in the world and the effect it may have. Our lives give us the opportunity to tell them in a fresh ways that speak to the moment.—planting seeds of hope, healing, and resilience. 


~John Rogers


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