Reflections on identity through the art of storytelling

Torrey workshop explores how storytelling allows us to reflect on our human experiences.


Jonathan Calvillo, adjunct professor of sociology, performs spoken word titled “The Recipe,” sending the audience through a sensory experience of what dinners are like in his home. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES

Grant Walter, Writer

Today I went to the Torrey workshop in Calvary Chapel titled With God in Exploring our Identity through the Arts.

I enjoyed this workshop because it brought us back to a basic, simple, beautiful event: storytelling. Telling stories is one of the many things that allows us to understand ourselves and others better; it allows us to grow in community, and to learn about who God is by his creation. Storytelling allows us to press pause on our lives and reflect on the events and experiences that make us who we are. It allows us to see ourselves more fully. Storytelling uncovers our connections to people we might not have known before. It unites us in our humanity.

This workshop focused on three different speakers, each of whom shared some of their story. Moses Hooper shared his testimony, Mariah Ortiz shared the history behind her two grandmothers, and Jonathan Calvillo performed a spoken word piece about food, growing up cooking and his family’s table fellowship. Between each presentation, students in the audience were given a chance to tell a different piece of their story to a neighbor.

Storytelling not only brings people together, it also helps us forge deeper relationships with the people that we share certain stories with. Sharing these bits of our lives with each other is what the New Testament describes as “koinonia,” or fellowship and community. Throughout this year’s Torrey Conference, the theme has been “with.” Storytelling is one of the most basic elements that allows us to be with one another as well as with God. After all, the Bible is a story. And we engage with God when we engage in his story.

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