Trees have long memories.
Trees are changed by their experiences. The rings of trees absorb their history: Droughts, floods, fires, injuries, and diseases – they’re all recorded.
Our bodies have long memories, too.
Psychologists tell us that the human body remembers trauma in all its forms – the horrific traumas that are evoked by the word, as well as the invisible traumas that can be just as devastating. The body absorbs them all, and is changed by them, just like the rings of trees.
This pandemic constitutes a trauma for all of us, and we would do well to call it that. Many have lost their jobs, or their health, or even their lives. Everyone else has lived in fear that they will be next. Racism has stolen our sense of security and national politics has taken our sense of stability. This is trauma, and our bodies will remember it.
The good news is that most traumas are survivable, given enough time and professional care. The same is true for trees: Trees do not stop growing when they experience a trauma – they are marked by it, and changed by it, but they usually go on. We can too.
If we are both honest and gentle with ourselves about what we are experiencing, and if we seek out the right kind of help, we can find the peace that Paul describes in Philippians: The peace that passes all understanding, the peace that comes only from God, the peace that can overwhelm both anxiety and fear.
We need never walk alone in the community of faith. God walks with us, as do our sisters and brothers in Christ. We’re all on this journey together, and thanks be to God for that.