How traumatic was the crucifixion! Yet, equally glorious is the resurrection! The timeless allure of the Easter story resonates in the soul of every person. No one has gone through life without experiencing some kind of betrayal, trauma, mocking rejection, or death. No one! Even the process of being born is a traumatic disruption from a comfortable warm womb.
Therefore, the Easter story of the resurrection is also our own personal story. In a great way, the Easter story offers us hope in eternal life where we will peacefully rest in the womb of heaven. In a small way, the Easter story is our own triumph over trauma, sin, and brokenness in our lives today. Both great and small triumphant victories are a result of God’s gift of grace, and our Yes! “Yes, God I accept your grace. Even if I do not understand Your great plan, I choose to respond to Your hand of grace acting in my life with a resounding yes!”
David Berceli PhD wrote The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process Transcend Your Toughest Times. He reflects on Mother Teresa and her own experiences of trauma in a profound way. His book is highly recommended for anyone seeking healing from traumatic life experiences. He presents a fascinating scientific research study about baby chickens experiencing trauma which I’ve copied below.
Researchers conducted an experiment with three sets of chicks. The first group of chicks formed the control group. This group received no intervention on the part of the researchers. The second group was held in the hands of the researchers until they experienced the freeze response. This group was then released and the chicks were allowed to recover, which involved going through trembling and fluttering their feathers. The third set of chicks was likewise held in the hands of the researchers to evoke the freeze response. But when they were released and began to tremor, they were again held to prevent the tremoring process from occurring.
When the second set of chicks, which had been traumatized and allowed to discharge the trauma, were placed in a vat of water to see how long they could swim before reaching the point of drowning, they turned out to have even greater endurance than the first set of chicks, which hadn’t been traumatized at all. In other words, the traumatized chicks that were allowed to discharge the trauma had become more resilient. The third group, which didn’t discharge the trauma, sank to the bottom of the vat without attempting to swim. They had learned to be helpless in the face of a threat.
What is most noteworthy here is that the third group of chickens gave up on life while the second group excelled over the non-traumatized first group. This scientific study applies to human people as well. If we have the knowledge and skill set to cope with trauma, we can take holy risks in life. We can courageously place ourselves in challenging situations because we are confident that we will “shake off” the trauma, survive and grow stronger and more resilient. We have confidence in the reality of the resurrection. This is how the Catholic mystics moved through life on earth.
Trauma and human suffering is a natural part of life on earth. Accepting this reality brings us peace even in the most trying of times. By facing human suffering squarely and courageously, we grow more connected to life. We grow connected to others. We become more authentic and less superficial in our human relatedness. We become a clearer reflection of Christ to others. We also grow eyes of compassion so we can see Christ in others more clearly. Berceli says it best, “In other words, it is precisely the shattering effect of trauma that forces us to think in new ways, feel at deeper levels, and relate to others more compassionately.” Amen! Happy Resurrection Sunday!