A trauma-informed care lens

“Pantropical spotted dolphins are synchronized swimmers and community builders. They travel in pods of hundreds, but within the pods they organize into groups of twenty or less and time their diving and beautiful acrobatics to be exactly in sync. Out in the ocean, they participate in mobile interspecies collectives consisting of other dolphins, yellowfin tuna, and seabirds. Scientists have different theories about why they do this, most of which can be summarized in these words: knowing who they’re with helps them know where they’re at and where they want to be.”

From Undrowned by Alexis Pauline Gumbs:

We recognize that there may be some ambiguity in this vision that we are holding out to the community as we regather. That is because we can’t say that we know what the vision is – yet. This description of what collaboration looks like from the pantropical spotted dolphins helps us see that our hope is that we are learning (again) who we are and how we are doing and where we want to be next. Together.

Through a trauma-informed care lens, we need time to be seen and heard, share our griefs, express the places where we have felt abandoned or even betrayed by this pandemic, and listen for the possibilities of post-trauma growth. The complicated piece in all of this is that your clergy have gone through this, too, and are going through this now. We are drawing on the deep, interconnected relationships that were made possible by this pandemic and also holding those who experienced significant isolation. Our hope is that we can weave together these experiences into the building up of something profound and healing for us all.

This is why we’ve been emphasizing a time of rest and healing as we re-form as a whole community. Think about what we know about Resurrection. Did Jesus raise Lazarus to be exactly as he was before? In Jesus’ Resurrection, he is unrecognizable at first; his closest friends must retrain their senses to be able to see him as he has become and as they themselves are becoming as well.

As your clergy, we are most excited for what this means for who we are called to be in the world as it is becoming something new with God. To follow that path, our number-one priority right now is how we gather, how we become better at talking to each other and holding space for one another. Think of this time post-quarantine as an extended retreat. Church is here for you to simply come and be, to be present, to be held by community and God, to re-learn how to listen to one another and ourselves. As we make honing these skills for listening and healing our top priority, imagine the places we’ll go together.

Chris & James