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The Spirituality of Trauma – Seeing Light in the Darkness

By Dr Mike Colson

Everyone ought to have high points and things to look forward to during the week. Doing interesting things, seeing and spending time with people we like, and maybe even hoisting an adult beverage can all be part of life lived well. I attend each week a single hour session that explores spirituality. I look forward to it because it changes me.

All of the members of the group are volunteers, predominantly Vietnam-era combat veterans, and knowledgeable thinkers. One by-product of the group trying to find joy and peace is that we often experiment with “spiritual recipes.” During our last few conversations we concocted the theory that trauma might be a window – however imperfect – that opens our minds to larger truths shining out of impenetrable darkness. A prime ingredient in this “Light in Darkness” soufflé is trauma…ours.

What is becoming more and more obvious for the group is that the trauma that has marked us appears to have a soft underbelly. Apparently, trauma takes a break from time to time. Imagine a large and foreboding oaf rolling off of you and while doing so exposing rolls of stomach fat. Right then and there you realize the oak isn’t so tough and not nearly as invincible as you thought. You get a gulp of air, you adjust your own body position, and for the first time in a long time you see light. It is not bright or uncompromising light, nor is it startling to the senses. But it is warm…a good indicator that the Spirit has arrived.

Isn’t warmth something we crave?

Oaf or not, I just love to be warm: in my bed, in the sun, snuggled up with a loved one. For dog lovers out there, I also have Jock. He is my large chocolate lab who is typical of his breed – lovable, huggable, and he snores! Just thinking about being warm gives me goose bumps. In the best of all worlds, warmth equals affection.

In contrast, trauma can leave us cold…especially when it’s laying on top of us.

But there is hope; as long as we have the ability to shift, move, jostle, or scrape. In the midst of the struggle – and when the glow appears – take the advantage and look for the spirit. Our group thinks that you’ll see it, feel it, experience and connect with something that “while mysterious and non-physical”, is good.

“The fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self control” – sounds like a prayer request to me.