This blog "Back to Life" is part two of a two part series. If you would like to read part one click the button below.
Back to Life
We know that Jesus heals, utterly and we know that He has power over death, literally and symbolically. Each one of our deaths, burials, and resurrections is a reflection of the incomparable Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus. His resurrection happened and nothing could prevent it and He invites us to live a resurrected life that is predicated on His. Our resurrection is coming and no dire circumstance can prevent it. Because this is true, I am hopeful for The Anchor House, its residents, and myself.
When we talk of resurrections, we cannot do so well without entering the space of story, embodiment, and hopeful imagination. Imagine that you knew only a portion of the resurrection story of Jesus. “Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint. 5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.” Matthew 28:1-6
Surely, it is an extraordinary fact to know about Him and it is not the fuller story. I imagine that a curious mind would want to know who is this man who conquered death. To know Jesus, we must know His story. We must listen with curiosity and allow His life to speak to us in all of its multi dimensional realities.
Core to the restorative treatment approach of The Anchor House, is our focus on narrative exploration. We are continually being invited to grow in how well we hold stories, including our own. Our residents, in due time and a pace that permits them honoring entry to their stories, will be invited to give voice to their narrative. They need a witness to their lives: the goodness they’ve enjoyed and the harm they have suffered. There are multiple ways to enliven this treatment approach. For us, having The Anchor House residents share their narratives in a kind holding environment is as important as any other component of our treatment approach.
I invite you to rethink what you may have come to know about sharing stories. In no way am I advocating a rote telling or retelling of facts. There is little, if any, goodness in that. However, my invitation to our residents is to ask them to risk a full-bodied telling of their stories. We want them to be mindful and present and we know this likely will feel counter-intuitive. Every story can’t be told nor is that necessary. There are some that must be told, engaged, and held well. Jesus’s story, in the fullness of Scripture, is our model of how we aspire to care for stories, including our own.
It is right and good to bring our bodies to the stories we tell and to those who bear witness. This is the invitation for staff and residents alike; and you. I realize the language I am using may sound strange, especially in contexts where there has been emphasis to separate mind and body. Divided and dissociated states are not how we were created to live. The work of trauma is to divide us from ourselves; to take our bodies away from us. I am grateful that we have the capacity to create some division/dissociation in the midst of trauma, but we are not created to live continually separated mind from body. Nowhere in Scripture have I seen it more painful and clear of how it can feel to bring our embodied selves than when Jesus prayed in the garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22:44. Embodied, Jesus agonized in prayer to Father so much so that His sweat fell like great drops of blood. The Anchor House residents will need to know that their bodies are not bad; nor their feelings. Our work is to partner with them in becoming whole people again. Becoming whole requires some imagination for the future; some sense of what can be that is not yet. Often, that can be an agonizing process.
Resurrection makes playful imagination hopeful. Please refuse to limit yourself to believing that playful imagination is only fantasy or for very young children. It is that and so much more. Playful imagination helps us live with hope instead of being resigned to status quo. If we don’t enter the lives of our residents with hope, then we will become impotent in our capacity to “heal the brokenhearted” and broken bodied as Isaiah 61:1 says. Hope is the fuel that keeps us engaged and believing that there is more; that the present and future can be different from the past. The Resurrection of Jesus grounds our hope; reminding us that He is not bound by painful pasts or the war with our bodies or our ambivalence about freely imagining becoming who we were meant to be.
Our stories are sacred and we are living epistles. My hope for you is that you will find a community who reads you well and stands awe-filled by your stories. Our heart is to do this for our residents; courageous boys who may not yet know that they are risking everything on the allure of Resurrection. Resurrection is coming!
- Linda Royster, Director of The Anchor House