“We all see the world, and when you say ‘the world this and that,’ you’re seeing one thing and I may be saying another, and it’s all based upon personal experience. So, the truth is found in paradox and we find that when we do one thing, we create another.”
We laugh as he tells me what his wife says in describing his very intellectual, even spiritual perspectives, “Don’t ask me the question because if you’ve got time to kill it, he’ll kill it for you. And it’s hilarious.” he says, in acknowledging how well she knows him.
His starting point on the big WHY? The expected, “Why not?” But what I am starting to already notice regarding the now popular first response is this: Why not means something very different to everyone. For under it lives so much more.
“You know, you ask me why I say ‘why not?‘” today’s stranger-now-friend, hospice Chaplin Matt begins, “That’s how I’m going to qualify the question because I’m all about the possibilities.”
His voice… somewhat representative of a deep Batman growl mixed with a Nick Nolte and Kevin Costner resonance, takes no rest in sharing his perspectives. His apparel and loose morning-rushed hair, tempts the world to profile him. But in getting to know him, a heavy-thinking and deeply spiritual man is revealed. A man who over the last year has offered hospice support to my 97-year-old mother. And in watching him with her as her body and mind diminish, I feel I am looking directly into the face of pure selflessness.
“Don’t make me laugh,” he smiles as I jest at how he describes his speaking voice, “I’m serious right now.“
“Good brother,” he begins, his smile warming up another notch, “Why?- Why? Well, why not? (he goes into minister mode) and I’ll tell you why I say that.”
Already getting confused in his whys, I sit back and ready myself for what I’ve grown to love as his most amazing diatribes. Dialogues that, each week, pull me into deep thought on the way we treat and see each other.
“..…well, why not me? We’re all in this together. And so the curse causeless shall not come,” he quotes from Proverbs. “It’s this idea that there’s a cause-and-effect relationship, and it‘s really an anticipation of what we in this post-renaissance, post-scientific revolution time of enlightenment and humanistic approach to things, that we might see things in linear terms…”
I told you, Matt (we like to call him Chappy) is seriously intellectual.
“We all have different roles. So you ask a question like Why? That’s the stuff of philosophy, and the answer to the question of why is so broad. It can be anything and everything. But really, I think what you’re getting at is motivation.”
He continues, “…and each point along that linear sort-of line, that trajectory, comes after something that is very specific. And that specific thing has a causal sort of nature. And so that naturally extrapolates in the form of logic. An A plus B equals C premise for conclusions.
“So why? Well, what about, why not me? I’m not saying that I’m special in any way, or that God treats me differently. What I am saying is that because there is a God, it doesn’t matter about our title positions, genetics, bloodlines, or whatever it might be. And in our society, more often than not, it becomes about how much you’re worth, what’s in your garage, or how big your house is. And it just goes on and on and on.
“We all have different roles. So you ask a question like Why? That’s the stuff of philosophy, and the answer to the question of why is so broad. It can be anything and everything. But really, I think what you’re getting at is motivation.
“What’s my motivation for doing whatever it is I do? And I would say ultimately, my why is when it becomes less academic or more hospice chaplaincy. Because I know one thing, it’s that God lives. And from that, I understand my place in the world that God created is love.
“I don’t need to read it, I’ve discovered it. And when properly understood, this gives me my marching orders. So when I, for example, know that God lives, I now have a sense of the nature of God and what it is I’m supposed to be doing.
“It’s a misunderstanding. It’s a miscalculation in a very fundamental way. God is with us in the choices we make in terms of cause and effect. So it gets back to why and why not. Well, I believe that we are in the image of God and can stand as God in a world that, at times, can be godless.
“When you look outside of yourself and look at the world that’s out there, as far as you want to look at what’s going on beyond us, you have a valued view of it.”
“People tell me, ‘Why would you believe a thing like that?’ And my question is, just as is powerful, ‘Why not tell me what it is about the human being that you think is incapable of reaching the kind of perfection we see in God, or to see God’s image in their own image?’ But more specifically in the image of the values they hold dear.
“And so God says, ‘Come follow me and do the things that you’ve seen me do.’ Will you do these kinds of things? And God tells us that we’re the children of a father in heaven and that we, like Christ, will sit at the right hand. All of that is language. A metaphor. Nomenclature for one thing. That is we are the children of God, and God is our destiny.”
But what about all the different views of God and the diverse beliefs of higher power and religious practices? I think.
Chappy resumes, “As a minister when you look at the world and see that everyone sees things differently, we have to realize that we all live under the labels we take. And when you look outside of yourself and look at the world that’s out there, as far as you want to look at what’s going on beyond us, you have a valued view of it.
“We all see the world, and when you say ‘the world this and that,’ you’re seeing one thing and I may be saying another, and it’s all based upon personal experience. So, the truth is found in paradox and we find that when we do one thing, we create another. Things that maybe are not the thing planned for. So when I serve somebody in need, I don’t serve that person because I want something out of it. That’s the why for the purpose of my life.”
Chappy, you’ve given us a lot to absorb. In it, and beyond and inclusive of my spiritual beliefs, perhaps the big takeaway today might simply be this call to action: That we all pause in a greater awareness regarding the worth of each other.
Talk tomorrow my good friends,