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AUTHOR: Thomas E. Kadel
There is no deeper spiritual cry than this. But, when a disaster survivor looks heavenward and cries “Why?” they may actually be asking many questions in that simple three letter word. They may be wondering about God’s love or about their own worthiness. “Why?” is the knee-jerk reaction to the resulting chaos when the unimaginable and unexpected invades our lives.
In Keep the Book Open, Thomas Kadel offers a unique way to hear the stories of disaster survivors called Narrative Listening. It focuses our attention on listening to the life of the survivor rather than simply the events of the disaster. Kadel urges spiritual caregivers to become the enfleshed presence of God through this special kind of listening and by being fully present with those they serve. It describes a kind of caring that seeks to assist survivors make sense out of no-sense, meaning out of no-meaning, and life purpose out of unfocused chaos. He points out that the goal of this kind of care is integration and not exorcism of the survivor’s trauma. Throughout, he reminds responders that their care needs to focus on keeping the survivor’s “book of life” open to the hope that spawns resiliency and aims at a life that is full and rich.
The final chapter invites readers into an interactive discussion of the cultural effects of secondary trauma in America at www.sacredturf.org and asks if Disaster Spiritual Care needs to be re-thought to attend to those affected by the many acts of terrorism and natural disaster we have vicariously experienced through the media.