Chaplain’s thoughts … January 29, 2016

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“Sometimes you have to look reality in the eye and deny it.”
~ Garrison Keillor</b?

American writer and entertainer Garrison Keillor is a master story teller. He, of course, is the creator of the mythical town of Lake Woebegone, Minnesota, (circa 1950s and 60s). A place where “all the men are good looking, all the women are strong and all the children are above average.”

In his weekly monologues he often speaks of the ability of the residents of Lake Woebegone to deny reality. Denial, for Lake Woebegonians is the preferred means of dealing with harsh or unpleasant realities.

For example, the small town, religiously conservative residents would be scandalized by a wedding which included a pregnant bride. But that’s not a problem, because they have the near epic ability to deny reality and say things like, “She’s ‘big boned,’”or when the child arrives four months after the wedding, they again deny reality and say “That’s the largest premature baby I have ever seen.” It’s comical for the listeners, and it seems to work … in Lake Woebegone.

While denial may be a preferred method of resilience in Lake Woebegone, it is not so useful where we work and live. In the real world we have to face our realities, understand them for what they are and endeavor to separate some of the harsh and painful emotions from the event. We need to acknowledge the good and bad of the situation, pick up the life lessons found in our personal crises and then move on a wiser, hopefully more resilient and graceful people.

As you face your personal crisis, I invite you to acknowledge your grief, pain and loss. Communicate with caring people who will walk with you through your difficult time. Seek counsel from a mental health provider or pastoral care provider as needed, especially if your pain continues to limit your ability to carry on your daily responsibilities associated with work and family.

Denial may work in Lake Woebegone, but for the rest of us, we sometimes need help from friends and professionals to work our way through the difficult and painful times of life.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

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