Come explore the power of laughter, and of finding and sharing our life stories this May with joyful storyteller Donna Oiland.
“In the olden days,” Oiland says, “people used to sit around and chat. But now people drive into their cul-de-sac, drive into their garage and shut the garage door. We are not communicating; we don’t sit down and talk together.”
That might explain why Oiland refers to herself as a Luddite and says she has a technology phobia.
Oiland, a certified laugh leader with the World Laughter Tour, will speak at the annual community church Ladies’ Spring Luncheon on May 26. All women are welcome.
Oiland, who also presents educational workshops for Cancer Lifeline, Swedish Hospital and Evergreen Healthcare, loves to encourage people to find and share their stories with one another.
“Once you start hearing and listening to other people’s stories, you remember,” she says. “It reminds you of how more alike we are than different.”
And as people look back, she says, they are able to see God’s hand on their lives, especially when times were hard.
“Throughout the Old Testament, the people were told ‘Remember, remember, remember’ – and ‘Tell the next generation,’” she says. She points to the leader Samuel, who set up a remembrance stone to commemorate a great battle victory over fearsome enemies.
“Story is our way of building that altar when God has walked us through a difficult time,” she explains. “He’s always with us; it’s powerful in so many ways.”
Years ago, Oiland led her first women’s retreat into a whole weekend of storytelling.
“They didn’t know each other’s stories,” she says in an awed voice. “Watching God’s hand is an amazing thing – and seeing the power of laughter.”
Oiland has seen that power over and again in her work with people seeking meaning as they ponder the end of life. She is a trained facilitator with the state initiative Honoring Choices Pacific Northwest, helps train volunteers for Evergreen Hospice, and is on the steering committee of the Washington End of Life Coalition.
Oiland serves as a board member and network coordinator for the Faith Community Nurses and Health Ministers Northwest. And she speaks for the Snohomish County Health Leadership Coalition and the Northwest Christian Speakers Bureau.
Oiland’s book, “Legacy …Reflections Along the Way,” is being used to assist personal storytelling and promote “dignity therapy” for hospice patients and their families. Copies will be given as door prizes at the luncheon.
“We are called to be the testimonies that God is faithful, even though things don’t always go the way we think they’re supposed to go,” says Oiland. “To love people like Jesus loved them – that is our testimony… I encourage people to live as if it were their last day.”
Lunch is on Saturday, May 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the Orcas Senior Center. Chef Jay Savelle will serve a choice of scallops or chicken. The cost to attend is $20. To register, call Susan Clark at 360-376-7046.