AFTER YEARS OF retreat work and spiritual direction in many contexts, I have come to see that it is very hard to heal individuals or institutions when the larger culture itself is in shock or despair. If there is at least some level of cultural hope or optimism, the healing process moves much easier and creativity flourishes.

When the shades are all pulled down, and so many are content to live in a dark room, it is much harder to enlighten any one part of the room. The shared panic makes high-level responses much more difficult. (Yet, to be honest, it emboldens the rare few too!)

I hope this does not sound too clever or current, but I do believe that much of the world, and surely the United States, is presently in a state of collective post-traumatic stress. We sit stunned by what is happening around us, to us, on our newsfeeds—thrashing around for explanations and answers—inside of incoherence at so many levels. I guess St. John of the Cross would call it a “dark night of the soul,” but it’s not an individual experience. We are now in it together.

 

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