Touchstone: As the Blue Ribbons Fade
As the Blue Ribbons Fade
by Elisa Stone, Minister of Congregational Care
It has been nearly three months since our campus and our lives were so deeply affected by the tragic shooting of officer Natalie Corona. I was particularly proud of our church community as it rallied around the need for support for those directly and indirectly affected by this trauma. We had area mental health professionals come to our aide and help with the immediate emotional processing of the events of January 10th. We had specialists provide services for people who were directly affected through different modalities of therapy. Our Sacramento Presbytery supported us by sending the interim presbyter and former pastor of DCC, Jim Kitchens, to assist us. We received funding from the Presbyterian Disaster Relief Organization to support healing. We offered four group sessions after Sunday services and reached out to the different groups who were on lock down to offer trauma support. We made efforts to hold our community and each other in deep concern and care to help begin healing and recovery.
So what now? The emotions after such an event, against popular belief, are never quite “over.” They shift our perceptions and our strength. Heather Littleton, a professor of psychology at East Carolina University who specializes in recovery from trauma says that recovery can be made harder by a prevalent misconception that grieving is a linear, incremental process, one that can be completed within the months or years after a tragedy.
The American Psychological Society published an article about managing distress after a shooting. They stated many important coping techniques to strengthen resilience. Talking about the event with a trusted friend or professional is essential. We have many people here at DCC who are willing to listen, my door is open to any of you and we have Stephen Ministers who are trained to listen with empathy and confidentiality. We can also help you locate mental health professionals in our area. It is important to strive for balance between looking at the tragedy and the beauty in life. It is essential to honor your feelings, remember all emotions are real, acceptable and important, a wide range of feelings are common after a traumatic event. Self-care is essential. We all hear this often, but struggle to make it truly happen. Do the things that feed you. Take your own care as seriously as you do the care of those you love. The flight attendant states on every flight that the oxygen mask must be put on yourself if you are going to be able to help others. Occasionally the act of helping others who have been affected by the tragedy can, in turn, help you heal when you are ready to do so.
In addition, body work is an important part of self-care. We offer Reiki here at DCC, a wonderful way to truly relax and shift the energy of any trauma into healing energy. Exercise helps release the anxiety of difficult life events, even a brisk walk on a Spring day can help your body integrate with your emotions. Pay attention to what your body is telling you, stretching and finding a calm moment to breathe deeply, pray meaningfully, and listen to your Creator are all ways to honor your resiliency. Your church family hopes that you will not only feel better after this event but also thrive, in body, mind and spirit.
Finally, know that we care deeply for you at DCC. If you need support now or at any time in the future, we are here for you. Just call or email me if I can help in any way: email@example.com/ (530)753-2894 X 106
I value this quote from Brian McLaren, from his most recent book, The Great Spiritual Migration:
Could it be that now is the time, at long last, for Christians to migrate to the vision shared by its original founder and his original followers? . . . If Christian faith can be redefined in this way, if our prime contribution to humanity can be shifted from teaching correct beliefs to practicing the way of love as Jesus taught, then our whole understanding and experience of the church could be transformed . . . [into] a school of love.
What I believe can and should happen is that tens of thousands of congregations will become what I call “schools” or “studios” of love. . . . What I care about is whether they are teaching people to live a life of love, from the heart, for God, for all people (no exceptions), and for all creation. . . .
We do prioritize creating and experiencing a life of love here at DCC. The staff is such multifaceted people, who also prioritize love for you, one another and self. Our pastor….well I don’t have to tell you how much he brings to our community! I am so proud to call him colleague and friend. I fully trust that our next associate pastor will bring to us just what we need as well. This is a peace that sustains and calms my soul and, I hope, yours too.
When I get scared or stuck, I return to love. This is my prayer for all of you. If you need to process such things in your own life or if the holidays bring sadness, please come and let’s get together over a nice cup of tea. There is never a limit on the amount of love we can show one another, I have lots and lots for each of you, and I deeply thank you for the love you regularly gift to me as well.
Elisa Stone, Minister of Congregational Care
firstname.lastname@example.org / 530-0753-2894 ext.106