Thinking about trauma and how it impacts our lives, I begin to see it everywhere. Is everything a story of something whole becoming broken, and seeking to become whole again? Is this our human story?
Taking STAR - Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience - with my colleagues from the Intensive English Program this spring has put a new spin onto everything. I think about our students and their experiences differently, knowing that many come from very traumatic situations of war, violence, and threat in their countries as refugees to Harrisonburg. Remembering this can help us to be more sensitive, and be alert for ways that trauma responses may be demonstrated or triggered.
Knowing about trauma and common trauma responses can be helpful in understanding one's own responses and helping others deal with trauma, particularly for care-givers, educators, and other leaders. It's another lens through which to consider behaviour and attitudes of self and others.
It was also a unique experience to take a course together with all my colleagues. I realized that in our work setting, we're focused on the students and on curriculum, but not so much on each other. Since taking the STAR course, it feels different. I've begun to listening more closely to what my colleagues say and to ask with sincerity, "how are you?" rather than the typical greeting with no more than a glance.
During this Easter season, I've been reflecting on the significance of Jesus' experience of human trauma. Jesus' most startling response, from my perspective, is not that he suffered, but how he responded to that suffering. Following the STAR program's "snail model," Jesus neither "acts in" to self-destruction nor "acts out" to violence and revenge. Instead, he follows the "outer path" to forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing. He then even extends this healing and hope to the very enemies who inflicted suffering on him.
This is not an easy journey, but it is the journey of Easter. As we continue in the light of the resurrection, I look for the signs of broken becoming whole, trauma being healed, and despair turning to hope.