Getting together has never been so hard.
Since March 2020, we’ve had to cancel so many retreats and camps in the Canyon, and our community engagement work in San Antonio has gone almost entirely online.
We’ve done the best we can online. Often that “best” has been quite good, with powerful presentations from artists and pastors and academics. We’ve been grateful to see so many people turn out for Zoom events.
Yet it’s just not the same. Screens are good for many things. But when your goal is to really, truly connect with people and places and dig deep into their stories, screens are a lousy substitute for actual presence.
If you’ve been following our San Antonio work, you know there is one piece of it we call Narrative Change. This project is about flipping the script on false or incomplete stories that we hold about our neighbors and our city.
We’re especially interested in the stories that lie behind our city’s deep economic and social divisions—the tough reality that San Antonio is a place where children born in some ZIP codes are likely to have everything they need to flourish in life, while others are set up for hardship.
These stories involve tough realities. They’re not easy to talk about. Narrative change involves rethinking the “why” and “who” and “how” of local poverty and gaps in opportunity. Admittedly, this work of rethinking can be a hard ask.
But we can do that work more readily when we’re together. In fact, being together—our bodies in shared places, experiencing shared realities, hearing and learning from one another in close proximity—increases our capacity for change.
When Jesus was asked to explain what a neighbor is, he told a story about an encounter between two people (see Luke 10). His answer was about someone closing the distance across gaps in geography, race, and class. That’s what we’re pursuing in Narrative Change.
So last fall—in the wake of Delta, before the cusp of Omicron—we managed to pull together a series of events designed to help us share spaces where we could dig into stories and learn new ones.
The photos you see here give a taste of how those events looked and felt. We hope you see in them an invitation to join us in this work. (And if you’re not in San Antonio, we hope you see in them inspiration to find opportunities to gather across divides in your own town.)