I have been thinking a lot about trauma. Recently it seems that we are all just jumping from one island of trauma to the next, resting every now and then in the cool peaceful channels and lagoons in between. Some of these traumas are vast, mountainous, and unfathomably painful, and some are small enough that we barely alight upon them, hardly remembering their coordinates. All of these masses shape our individual worlds. As we live our lives we make decisions about colonization. Do we go back, work the stony soil and plant? Erect lovely buildings? Invite delegates to help govern, and create order and peace? Or do we visit every now and then just to chop down trees in a rage, graffiti the rocky crags and throw stones at birds?
I am the woman at the well. I want to take every drop from that reservoir and use it to numb my scorched archipelago. I want to take the edge off. I want to drink until I’m drunk and I cannot feel the islands floating around inside of me. I use the hundreds of the vessels at my feet to gather the liquid; I want the trauma covered and forgotten, like a lost civilization, buried under miles of silt and salty sea.
The trouble is, that these are the terrain I’m fabricated from. And so when I try to drown them I choke and sputter. But when I decide to treat them with dignity and potential, my world begins, little by little, to flourish…to grow a bit softer, a bit more fruitful, and almost resolute. A different thing than just a blue globe covered with lifeless ocean (serene, but vastly circular and tiresome). Then, at long last, I become a harbor for others escaping islands made of the same stuff. We weep. We chart maps. We make plans for rescue and recovery.
I am spirit and earth. Dust and God breath. And since I am inextricably both holy and dirty, I see that redemption is preferable to perfection. That reclamation is more powerful than any untouched structure. That because of the One who joins me at the well and “knows everything that I ever did,” I am not just a canvas made white again, but I am a new masterpiece. I receive a new name.
Sometimes I wonder…what if the real plan wasn’t Adam and Eve and the yummy fruit and blissful nudity and talking animals? What if the plan was that it would all break, because Love is choice? What if the intention was that we would be regrown stronger and more exquisite and more valuable because of those shitty traumas? That, just maybe, we would be able to love our disfigured neighbor better because of our own disfigurements. What if the goal was never to return to the garden, but to enter into a new, repurposed land, wounds and all? Because we were made to be redeemed, and we were not meant to chart alone. And waiting for us there, is the most beautiful One of all, also covered in scars.