Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Who are you, anyway?

I think every one of us has story to tell, and the urge to tell it.

I don't know, maybe I'm generalizing too broadly based on my own feelings, but I've been thinking about personal stories since Sunday morning when I looked around at the people in church and realized how many of their stories I was beginning to know. I think a lot of what we humans do is driven by the desire to be known, by each other and ultimately by God. Lord, you have searched me and you know me. I'm sure it isn't an original idea, but I've been thinking that part of what defines a community in this context is knowing and honoring each other's stories.

When I returned the campus Episcopal chaplain's book last week, he asked again if I wanted to get together sometime and talk. As a matter of fact, there isn't an Episcopal priest I've met anywhere in my explorations during the past year who hasn't made the same offer. I don't think this is bound up with being Episcopal; surely it has more to do with the size of the congregation. When you know who your own people are, you can also recognize the stranger among them, a necessary first step toward welcoming him or her.

But how can I not compare how it feels to have someone come right up and say, Welcome, it's nice to meet you, I'd like to hear your story if you'd like to share it, with the typical reception I've received at the various Catholic churches I've visited in the same period--which is to say, no reception at all: Don't know who you are, don't care, doesn't much matter if you come back again or not.

Or, from the Catholic church I left: Don't know where you went, don't care, doesn't much matter ...

Is it wrong to want to be known, and to matter?


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