A Chaplain’s Identity

Most human made items are defined by what they are, but Chaplain Identity which involves in part a holy and specific calling upon one’s life is best defined by what C.I. is not. In the discipline of Art, there are two concepts that novice artist learn called positive and negative space. Most of us learn as children to draw and color that which is referred to as positive space. Things like fluffy clouds, outlined animals, and broad branched trees on a variety of landscapes are learned by coloring, drawing or painting positive space. As you advance in the field of Art, you learn to apply color, sketch, and sculpt with depth. However, the focus is dominantly positive space regardless of medium used. Advanced or professional Artists learn not only to use and negotiate negative space but they learn numerous mediums, methods of application, and the various “genres”, if you will, or styles of Art. At this point we begin referring to the Artist who produces these masterpieces as an inspired artist and in some styles even masters of their field. For example, in the Art form which uses pen as a medium the expert artist is referred to as Master Penman.

When mastering art forms which use a negative space approach to producing Art, it is the empty space in pictures, scenes, imagery or still life’s that are the focus not the occupied space. Take for example the picture below as one amateur example.

painting

It is called “Painting the Universe”. As Chaplains we are called to the negative space of life. We may start out in the coloring books of military ministry but it does not take long to encounter the negative space of soldiers, leaders and the sub system known as the Army. It is our identity to then take what we are given as the mediums (tools), plus the soldier’s in our care, and help both them, their families and their fellow soldiers to see the beauty that can come from the uniqueness of who they are created to be. Here is another example.

negative5

Sometimes the soldiers we encounter, the units we serve, and the expectations which are laid upon us can appear to be covered in over 50% darkness. Even then we can be the light that helps both the soldier and their organization see the true colors the soldier, unit or leader is capable of producing.

Therefore, Chaplain Identity is best defined as the calling placed on Chaplains to use the negative space given them to show with God given Glory, the radiance within us all. We are authenticated by our Endorsers, trained by our God through our religion, equipped with raw skill by years of education and ministerial work, and our mediums are the degrees, certifications, units, soldiers, missions and engagements we are given. Only a Master Artist, one who understands both the science and the art of life has the skills to fulfill this calling and claim this identity. Pro Deo Et Patria!

Mijikai Mason
Disclaimer: The thoughts and views published on the Veterans to Christ blog are those of Mijikai Mason and in no way are meant to represent the United States Army or the Armed Forces.

Bio: Mijikai Mason is an Ordained Southern Baptist minister and Chaplain in the United States Army. He has been in the Army for 26 years both as an enlisted Soldier and now as an Officer. He has been stationed at various bases in the United States and in United States Army Garrison Schweinfurt, Germany. He holds an undergraduate degree in Religion from the University of Mobile, a Master of Divinity degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Theology and Evangelism and a Master of Arts degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Webster University. Chaplain (MAJ) Mijikai Mason was selected by the Army in 2013, to become a Family Life Chaplain and began his service in this field starting 15 May 2015. He is the Deputy ESC Chaplain and Family Life Chaplain for the 593 Expeditionary Support Command at Joint Base Lewis McCord. He has deployed four times: Desert Storm (1991), Iraq twice (2005-2006; 2007-2008), and Afghanistan (2012-2013). He has a total of 42 months deployed in combat and logistics operations. Mijikai and his wife, Ashley, have been married for 17 years this May and live near Joint Base Lewis McChord, Washington with their four daughters.