It’s only been a few months since the attack on Paris.
We can only wonder when and where the next tragedy will occur.
My wife and I heard the news about Brussels while in the airport awaiting a flight home from a trip. When we arrived home, the most recent issue of Psychotherapy Networker was waiting in our mailbox. And by eerie coincidence, the issue contained an article by Chris Lyford about therapists in Paris dealing with trauma in the aftermath of last year’s terrorist incidents.
Perhaps I shouldn’t call that a coincidence. It’s a measure of the sad and sinful state of our world that an article about terror could be going to press just as another act of terror was being planned.
Lyford tells the story of a woman who was at the concert in the Bataclan in Paris when the attack occurred. Fleeing the carnage, she somehow found herself in a Paris metro station, where an employee kindly draped a blanket over her shoulders, offered her tea, and let her sob. Later, she visited a trauma specialist, who told her, “That man in the metro was worth many, many hours of psychotherapy. There are plenty of drugs out there for trauma, but you’re not going to need them. What saved you was a cup of tea and a hug.”
There are, of course, degrees of trauma and loss. A hug won’t regrow a shattered limb or bring back a lost loved one.
Still, those who follow the Crucified One understand that the world can be brutal and violent. Coming alongside the victims of violence, reaching out to them in love and compassion, is an expression of faith that God has not abandoned the world.
Surely, Christians won’t be the only ones giving out hugs. But they can do so as an act of faith, as a sign of trust that the kingdom of heaven is still present, even when world seems to be spiraling into hell.