From the Rev: Not All Stories Are Equal
The longer I serve as team chaplain, the more I am reminded that not all stories are equal. Let me explain what I mean: sometimes, in our different roles and positions, we can become so engrained and entrenched in the day to day that we forget to see people uniquely. We can fall into the trap of thinking that people’s backgrounds and experiences are similar to our own.
A Chinese proverb has stuck with me for a long time and I use it frequently, “A fish in water doesn’t know it is wet.” Those words are a constant reminder to me to not become so enmeshed (whether in the work or ministry or everyday trappings of life) that I fail to see or recognized that someone’s story might be drastically different from my own. Now, I am not talking about making assumptions that everyone has a similar Anglo background, I am talking about failing to seek out what makes a person (and their life story unique). For the fish (in the proverb) it only comes to an understanding of water life when it has been removed from the life-giving environment it was created for and placed outside. There needs to be awareness before being removed so that there is appreciation and healthy respect of the “other.”
The recent article on Colorado Rapids Head Coach Oscar Pareja reminded me of this tendency and the need to “discover” each new story that has come to the Rapids team this year. Pareja spent years in Major League Soccer, and his adjustment to American culture, his ability to speak English fluently, and other considerations make it difficult (from the outside) to sometimes remember to look for that special story. But Pareja has a life and history that go beyond his time here in America and if I simply limit my relationship to that part of his life, I will lose (and will dishonor) those other parts of his life and story that make him who God has been making him to be. And the truth is that we all have special and unique elements to the journey that God has had us on – and it is the task, it is the responsibility, and privilege of the chaplain (and really each of us) to stop, listen, and remember that not all stories are equal.
Rev. Brad Kenney