Today is cooler, in the mid 80s, and rain is falling softly, muting the smell of pollution and traffic. There is a gentle sea breeze.
I grew up in the desert. I am happy to have a break from the heat and I always love rain.
It is raining in Tacloban…and for many that is very bad thing.
I can still remember a particular September day in Wyoming when I was a child. I was in a big garden with my mother and my grandfather. I was getting ready to head back to school but wanted to spend a few more minutes with my grandfather, and even if it meant helping with the weeding I was fine with that.
As the wind picked up we caught a whiff autumn on the air. I have no idea what autumn smells like but this was it. My mother and I stopped weeding and stood straight up, transported by the sensation and the happy memories of fall.
While we were teaching yesterday one of the women in the class volunteered to have a little work done in front of the whole group. This was a chance for her to experience some relief and to teach the protocol.
Sebastiaan asked her “When do you get scared?”
She said, “When I look at the ocean.” She pointed out the window at a completely tranquil ocean.
And she began to cry.
The sight of the ocean brought it all back. Even the still, calm ocean. Just looking at water put her right back in the middle of that horrible day.
The three components of a traumatic experience are: sudden, extreme, and isolating.
When we are dropped back into old traumatic moments we experience all three again: sudden, extreme, and isolating.
It is heartbreaking to hear stories like these:
- A mother talking about the pain of raining glass from broken windows as she tries to shield her children with her body.
- The young man talking about watching pieces of sheet metal flying from roof tops and cutting off limbs.
- The lines of dead bodies along the road.
Even with pain there is hope.
Even with trauma there is healing.
It is amazing to watch someone move to a place where they are able to tell the story of that fateful day without tears. Without feeling alone.
It is humbling to have them thank you for giving back part of their life.
It is gratifying to know they will touch so many more people by sharing this than we ever could in a few short days.
There is healing!
There is hope!