Why the name Jonah?
Kelly Bernardin-Dvorak founded Jonah in 2011. Our name comes from the sacred story about a man who reluctantly spoke truth to an oppressive force - in the midst of Jonah's journey, he was swallowed by a big fish; that's what the story is usually most known for. But there was more going on in Jonah's story than being in the smelly belly of a fish for three days ... It's actually a pretty powerful account of what could be possible if might made way for right; if the powerful acknowledged their privilege and shared their power. It's a story of eyes opening and awareness growing and people getting it - and the world changing in humane and just ways as a result.
The story goes that Jonah was asked to speak truth to an oppressive King who had power over Jonah's people, but Jonah refused to do it, because he had no faith in the oppressor's capacity to do things differently - Jonah had lost hope under the burden of living in accordance with another community's rules. Eventually, after the fish belly episode, Jonah did go to the King, and he shared the story of his people, who were suffering terribly as a result of the ways the King and his rulers were abusing their power and dehumanizing Jonah's community. Incredibly, the King listened carefully to Jonah and took responsibility for his actions. He apologized and the entire kingdom not only expressed regret, but committed to changing their oppressive ways.
This story represents some of the spirit of Jonah Counselling; we know that people's lives are terribly affected by many oppressive and unjust realities in the world. The struggles of our lives aren’t solely located within us - many of them are connected to forces in the world that we have no control over.
Back when Kelly founded Jonah and didn't yet know what to call it, a young friend of Kelly's was excited about the well known story of Jonah being swallowed by a Big Fish, and together they read that story over and over. Familiar stories can become absorbed into our lives, like a song on repeat. If this young one hadn't been captivated by the sacred Jonah story, who knows what our name might be!
Stories are like that: they shape who we are and guide us through our lives, speaking and teaching at crucial moments. Not only is the Jonah story important at Jonah, but we also see the power of any story as foundational to the way we work with people. Not surprisingly, after reading about Jonah over and over, we found ourselves considering that story as we thought about our hopes for this work.
We all need to find time and support for examining our lives and the stories embedded in them; considering our values or purpose, coming to terms with our regrets, finding ways toward healing the wounds we’ve experienced. We also need to be honest about the ways social values and cultural norms both help and harm us. At Jonah Counselling, we’re here to accompany you on your journey of awareness and wellbeing.