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June's Forest Finds: Narrative

Exploring Narrative and Chaplaincy

All humans are defined by our stories. We make sense of our histories, interpret our present, and imagine our futures by weaving stories like threads through time to create cohesive narratives about who we are, what we believe, and to whom we belong. For chaplains entering into encounters with those we serve, inviting careseekers to share their experiences through storytelling is a powerful strategy for meaning-making, self-reflection, and connection both within the chaplaincy relationship and beyond.  

Whether we meet careseekers in the middle of day or the middle of the night, chaplains always encounter those we serve in the middle of the series of stories that makes up the narrative of their lives. We almost never have a full view of the narratives that have led to this moment, and we will rarely witness the unfolding of the story after our encounter ends – we only have the present chapter that is the here and now, being written before us. 

How we elicit, invite, listen to, hear, understand, reflect back, affirm, enter into and engage the stories we encounter as they are narrated to us by those we serve is at the core of our work as chaplains. Think about the careseekers you provide care for: How do you engage their stories? Are you seeking to learn information, find meaning, assess behavior, connect with events, understand an idea, or simply ride in the sidecar while they drive? Are there stories that you may be unprepared for or reluctant to engage? 

Careseekers' identities are defined by their stories. They perceive historical and current events in their lives by connecting the past to the present through storytelling. When careseekers share their experiences, they give meaning, perspective and shape to their narratives, making it possible for us to have an encounter. We meet careseekers in the middle of day or the middle of the night, in the middle of a life of stories. We do not have the first 10 chapters, nor will we have the final 10 chapters. We only have the present chapter that is the here and now before us. How we listen, hear, understand, consume, reflect, and engage a narrative is at the core of our work as chaplains. Think about the careseekers you provide care for. How do you engage their stories? Are you seeking to learn information, find meaning, assess behavior, connect with events, understand an idea or simply ride in the sidecar while they drive?  Are there stories that you may be unprepared for or reluctant to engage in?   

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Upcoming Events

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Chaplain to Chaplain
Today
June 13, 2024
|
4:00 pm
5:00 pm

An airport chaplain and a seaport chaplain

Rev. Blaire Walker, Head Chaplain of Interfaith Chaplaincy at the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta Hartsfield. and Rev. Josh Messick from the North American Maritime Ministry Association will join us to discuss the unique circumstances providing support in a world where the movement of people and goods is the framework for care. They will explore religious and spiritual diversity, travel stress, advocacy, crisis and human frailty and resilience.

Treehouse Guests
Today
June 18, 2024
|
1:00 pm
2:00 pm

Interview: Rev. Dr. Judith Ragsdale

Dr. Judith Ragsdale is an ACPE Educator and Associate Professor, Division of General & Community Pediatrics at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital. We will discuss one of her research constructs, Religiously Informed, Relationally Skillful Chaplaincy Theory (RIRSCT). This moldel proposes a middle-range, prescriptive theory of healthcare chaplaincy bringing together in a new way the importance of religion/spirituality (R/S) to people of faith receiving healthcare and the interpersonal competence of clinically educated chaplains.

The Solarium
Today
June 25, 2024
|
8:00 pm
9:30 pm

Chaplaincy and Popular Culture

How do we embrace, utilize and critique the impact of popular culture content on spiritual care? What can chaplains learn from Beyoncé, The Super Bowl, Taylor Swift, NASCAR and Kendrick Lamar?

Treehouse Guests
Today
July 9, 2024
|
1:00 pm
2:00 pm

Interview: Rev. Gabrielle Kennedy

Rev. Gabrielle Kennedy is an AME pastor and community chaplain with the Bullet Related Injury Clinic (BRIC) in St. Louis. They serve people who have been impacted by gun violence, providing holistic, culturally appropriate medical and social/spiritual care. You can learn more about the BRIC here.

Old School Debates
Today
July 16, 2024
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8:00 pm
9:30 pm

Empathy vs. Rational Compassion

Chaplains are viewed as naturally empathic people. It is often the first word used to describe the characteristics of a spiritual care provider. Paul Bloom a psychologist from Yale, wrote a book called Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. Two yet to be named chaplains will debate the work of Paul Bloom and it usefulness or detriment to chaplaincy. Here is Bloom making his argument.

Chaplain to Chaplain
Today
July 18, 2024
|
4:00 pm
5:00 pm

A Prison and a Hospital Chaplain

Rev. Dr. Emily Brault and Rev. Aaron Unseth will discuss the impact of confinement on spiritual care meaning making, and the challenges of transformative care. They will also discuss care themes and modalities they feel lead to depth explorations for prisoners and patients. Some articles to get you thinking about prison ministry. The Challenges and Calling of Prison Chaplains International Prison Chaplain Association

Check out what the chaplains are talking about