Rich Paxson

Share ways in which you have noticed the content, questions or insights from the previous module showing up in your lives.

When I post a personal narrative here in the Discussion Forum, sometimes it feels too true; and then I’m tempted to revise the post. I’m tempted to interpret my thoughts or actions in a not quite so unvarnished manner.

And yet, the unvarnished data bring awareness of tough questions and woundedness that I probably was trying to pass-by, like the priest and the levite passing-by the wounded victim in the Parable of the Good Samaritan. In spite of thinking I should respond to woundedness as the Good Samaritan responded, I so often pass it by. This rankles at the time, and continues to chafe underneath whatever front I project imagining I can dress-up my public persona.

The meaning and context of posting personal narrative here deepened for me when I read the Forgiving Victim quote in the next paragraph. In that quote James describes how Jesus inducted two B-Team disciples, who were walking on the post-resurrection road to “Emmaus,” into a new interpretation of events surrounding the lynching, which we now call Holy Week —

“… what seems important here is our third party’s [Jesus’s] awareness that these guys are never going to understand what was going on except through the act of themselves trying to tell the story [of Holy Week]. If they just shut him [Jesus] off and say “You wouldn’t get it, so we won’t bother even to try to explain it to you,” they’ll never start learning to piece the story together and become vulnerable to the holes in their own version. So the definitive interpreter with the voice from somewhere else has first to induct the “insiders into stopping squabbling with each other and instead beginning to try and tell their story. It is through the failed telling that they are going to be given the possibility of an interpretation that actually makes sense.” (Pg. 61, my underlining)

Just as the Emmaus disciples stopped their “squabbling” and instead began trying and to tell their story of the man Jesus, I too can acknowledge inner conflict through retelling personal narrative. Retelling personal narrative, in this forum and elsewhere, is a way to resolve the fruitless squabble between interior thought and exterior action.

Even though, or maybe because I will fail to get right the real meaning of personal narrative, retelling my stories within the context of my limited understanding provides Jesus-the-interpretive-principle the possibility of actually making sense of the narratives of my life. And then Jesus continues the healing process by inducting me into his risen life of integrated faith and practice.

I’ve read and revised what I’ve written above. It’s as clear as I can get it. Now I think: ‘Do I really believe this?!’ Honestly, what I’ve written here is pretty abstract and mentalist, which I guess is how I believe it now! The real Good News comes time-laden and gradually. And, apparently for me the beginning has arrived through a sharpened focus on the meaning and practice of personal narrative in writing.