The Story You Refuse to Hear May Be Your Own

In a recent sermon called, The Search for the present Christ, I challenged my community to reflect on the image of Afro-Cuban artist, Harmonia Rosale’s work, I Exist, which features a black woman on the Cross. I asked them to do this not because I was trying to be provocative in the shock value sense, but more because I wanted to invite them into a sense of the grander story of which we are all a part.

In living my life in an increasingly open fashion, I have been able to connect with aspects of who I am that I could never have become aware of if I had not honored the intersection between my story and the stories of others. As I said in the post prior to this one, Narrative Insight: How the Stories We Tell Shape the World We Experience, “far too many of us hold an “agree with me or suffer the consequences” mentality”. In this sermon and with how I live my life, I am trying transcend that mentality. To me, that sometimes means looking at old things in radically new ways so that we might move beyond the borders of our conditioned sense of being. I know that seems scary sometimes. But don’t you want to know yourself and others as we truly are rather than simply being a volitionless character bound by old ideas that you feel pressured to conform to.

As I understand it, the gift of Christ is true Freedom. So that’s what I am going for. To me that means being able to listen others into freedom as well. That starts by making room for their stories intersecting with my story and moving beyond what David Brooks in The Second Mountain, called hyper-individualism.

“Our society suffers from a crisis of connection, a crisis of solidarity. We live in a culture of hyper-individualism. There’s always a tension between self and society, between the individual and the group. Over the past 60 years we have swung too far toward the self. The only way out is to rebalance, to build a culture that steers people toward relation, community, and commitment–the things we most deeply yearn for, yet undermine with are hyper individualistic way of life.”

David Brooks, The Second Mountain

As separate as we want to image ourselves to be, every story is a story of Us. So the degree to which we deny the rights of others to be and to discover themselves, may very well be the degree to which we are holding ourselves back. That’s contradictory to the story of a loving Creator who has made room for all of our stories within the realm of the grander story of Creation.

I Exist, by Harmonia Rosales

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