With the world going through a shared trauma such as we have not seen in our lifetimes, the question is not “will we get through this?” (because we will), but rather “what will we look like on the other side?” Trauma has always had a way of shaking people’s world views. It can bring out the best (like compassion, grace, and caring) as well as the worst of humanity (like hoarding, selfishness, and violence).
When bad things happen that we thought could never happen to us we tend to reflect on our beliefs. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, new age, or nothing at all. It doesn’t matter if you are a firefighter, police officer, EMT, or a chaplain. By design, we all are meaning-making creatures and we all try to make sense of what is going on around us.
Who knows where this will go? Other states and countries may be hit much harder than South Carolina. It could very well be that things will get worse before they get better. This means as the trauma gets deeper and deeper, more will question their fundamental world views. What will government look like? What will family and social interactions look like? What will happen to our faith and community life, especially after we all have experienced virtual church? And the most important question, where will we say God was in all of this?
As chaplains I encourage you to take this time to reflect on what God is doing in your heart, then consider the hearts of the people you minister to. Take time to listen to the spiritual cries that often resonate just below the surface, where things touch that tender spot in all our hearts. I encourage you to take time away from the news and social media and listen to the heart of God. What is the meaning that you will find from this pandemic? What is the message that you will have as a chaplain on the other side of this? Will it be of community (and possibly personal) trauma, faith, and then hope, or will it be of something else? Remember, as public safety chaplains you work in the public arena, and because of that you will have a very real part in the healing of our community.
South Carolina Public Safety Chaplains Association