Members of the church can be a great resource. Walking with veterans and their families on healing journeys is means of justice, and what faith communities are about in ministry. As the church lives the liturgy throughout the church year they experience anew the powerful reassurance of God’s grace and presence in the lives of that faith community. As the church lives out these words, they learn to trust others, to bind the wounds.
JustPeace is keenly aware of the impact trauma has on individuals, families, and communities. Often when invited to walk with faith communities experiencing conflict, we discover the depth of trauma in the fabric of the congregation or community. We continue to deepen our understanding about trauma healing and transformation and resources to support both individuals and communities.
Trauma is about a loss of connection – to ourselves, to our bodies, to our families, to others and to the world around us. This loss of connection is often hard to recognize, because it doesn’t happen all at once. It can happen slowly over time, and we adapt to these subtle changes sometimes even without noticing them. We may simply sense that we do not feel quite right, without ever becoming fully aware of what is taking place; that is the gradual undermining of our self-esteem, self confidence, feelings of well being and connection to life. (Levine, 2005)
- To learn more about trauma and resilience, we recommend the STAR program at Eastern Mennonite University.
- To learn more about Transforming Historical Harms, we recommend downloading this free resource by David Anderson Hooker and Amy Potter Czajkowski.
- Click here to learn more about the Soul Care Initiative
Posts in this Category
When the entire community experiences loss, the work of congregational leaders is to create such containers for the entire community of faith and then to hold the container and be present; not with rituals, requirements, or expectations, but with love, grace, hope and patience.
The Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health & Traumatic Brain Injury (DCOE) recently interviewed Chaplain Dave Smith, the Coordinator of the JustPeace Soul Care Initiative about the impact of war on psychological health.
David Anderson Hooker and others talk about restorative justice and forgiveness on The Huffington Post. Originally aired live on the morning of July 24, 2015.
The “soul art” encounter began as Donna shared with the group her soul wound, making herself vulnerable to the veterans attending. This “confession” had the affect of tearing down walls between her and the group that opened the doors of trust. Donna shared with the group the significance of the art in her life as it has brought her healing. She opened her soul to us by sharing a story around each piece of art.
I am excited to announce JustPeace’s launch of the Soul Care Initiative website.
I have engaged faith communities and faith partners over the last 6 months regarding their concern for our veterans and their families, especially about maintaining health and wholeness. During these conversations we recognized the need for a means to communicate, collaborate, and facilitate resources and practices that are a part of the cultivation of spiritual care and the development of resiliency for our veterans and their families.
Within the last decade, there have been several experts who have addressed the realities of moral injury; Jonathan Shay, Brett Litz, Rita Nakashima Brock, and Gabriella Lettini. The concept is currently used in literature on the mental health of military veterans who have witnessed or perpetrated a moral transgression in combat. Each of these scholars and behavior health professionals have researched the effects of moral injury from a psychological, cultural, and spiritual perspective.
Chaplain Kibben unfolds for the reader the impact of faith as lived out with authenticity in an act of service that becomes the sacred, that invites a person to trust, and thereby fosters the beginning of a journey toward healing.
Beyond the debate of the film’s accuracy, form, or politics, the value of the film opens the viewer to the human story of war and its aftermath. Zachary Moons’s post American Sniper and the War Story We Cannot Tell on Huffington Post highlights the complex challenges returning veterans and their families experience. Equally as important is our responsibility to understand the human experience of war and the people who return from fighting them.
“Sad souls and broken hearts find rays of hope in grief. Anger and pain can yield to the power of love and forgiveness.” Rather than allowing violence and war to have control over our communities, congregations can bring their unique strengths and capacities for care toward healing and restoration.