By Rev. Canon Val Kenyon
Earlier in the year author and historian Diana Butler Bass, spoke at a Deanery of London event entitled Unbinding Heavy Burdens.
Speaking from a historian’s perspective, Butler Bass spoke of the place of story in our lives. In particular she spoke of the very human tendency to want to find just where we fit into this larger picture of our communities, as we try to place ourselves somewhere in the larger story. Humans are inveterate story tellers and have been since they first gathered around a fire under the night stars. In many different parishes, due to pressures of all kinds many of us have begun to more intentionally wonder together just what is our place in the story of the Church and how can we structure ourselves to be ready to meet what is next in a faithful way, a way that responds to wherever we see God moving in our midst.
Butler Bass spent some time speaking about what happens when either the events of our lives or larger events in society (think Pandemic), disrupt our story. She went on to say that when we have a certain understanding about who we are, what we do, how we do it, and in what feels like the blinking of an eye, due to some disturbance, it all changes.
She shared the example of how the events of September 11, 2001, beyond unmistakably being very tragic, were so difficult for our American neighbours as the destruction of the twin towers disrupted the commonly held story that Americans were safe within their own borders. Obviously, this was no longer true. Of paramount importance when such disruptions occur is the need to address these disruptions and process how our story has now changed. Failing to do this can be very unhealthy both for individuals and for communities of all kinds.
Disruptions to our story mean that some things no longer make sense, and so our tendency is to try to fix the story, often returning to previously effective solutions, instead of doing the hard work of acknowledging the disruption and reflecting on a way forward in light of new realities.
We all have disruptions that take place in our stories don’t we. Perhaps we have a financial setback, perhaps we or a loved one gets a serious diagnosis, perhaps it is becoming far too obvious that our bodies are not quite as strong or as resilient as they once were, perhaps we feel like technology is racing past us, at far too fast a pace to keep up and we are in real danger of being left behind.
All of these are disruptions in our own stories. How we deal with them, if we deal with them, will determine a lot about how the new realities will eventually be incorporated into who we are. One thing is certain however, when disruptions to our stories happen, they never feel very good but there is always something for us to learn as we embrace each new component of our story.
As an Anglican community of faith, the local parish, as well as the Church in general is undergoing a great many disruptions in the stories, we tell ourselves about who we are, and what constitutes ministry. We all know them. And yet, what disruptions offer us personally and as a community, are very valuable opportunities, to pause, reflect, and begin the discernment process of hearing God speaking in this moment. While this takes energy that sometimes we do not feel we have, it is opening for us fresh countries to explore, new boundaries to cross and so much more.
Central to the purpose of an EfM group is the practice and process of reflection. If you are interested in learning more about joining others on this journey, seeking by God’s grace to incorporate new elements into their stories, as we move to whatever new chapters may lie ahead, we will be hosting our first Open House on Wednesday, May 12 at 7pm and the second one on Tuesday, June 8 at 7pm by Zoom. If you, or anyone you know, would like to attend, please be in touch with Libi Clifford, the Diocese of Huron EfM Coordinator or myself Val Kenyon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rev. Dr. Canon Val Kenyon is EFM Animator in Huron.