Witnessing Trauma - A Pastoral Letter

I watched the video. The video that was released earlier this week in Minneapolis, revealing what happened between Minneapolis Police and Thurman Blevins. I won’t pretend to have answers, but I will share some thoughts on what I saw. You cannot unsee once you have seen.

Initially, all I could see was fear. Fear in Justin’s and Ryan’s words and actions as soon as they got out of their car. Fear in Thurman’s actions and words as soon as he began to run. Fight and flight. My own body froze and I held my breath as I watched the trauma unfold. There were others who witnessed this firsthand: a woman and their child, neighbors, and onlookers. As human beings, we all have physiological reactions to threats, which have varying consequences. Some can choose to walk away, while others will carry this story forever.

Today, a man remains dead, police face scrutiny, the community has questions, and a system is left unchanged. 

Now as I look around, I see pain. Pain in brothers and sisters of color who have endured this kind of trauma countless times. Pain in parents and loved ones of police officers whose loyalty is fierce and unwavering. Pain in police officers who feel like their motives are questioned. Pain in a community that has not learned how to talk with each other about this trauma.

How does one respond as a person of faith? I have lots of questions, not only about how this situation could have unfolded differently, but also about how you and I might bear witness to God’s call for love, compassion, mercy, and justice. How are you responding and making sense of this? Do you notice a physiological reaction in your body when you learn of a tragedy like this? Are you having honest and vulnerable conversations about your own fear and pain? I believe this is an important place to start.

The Racial Justice Action and Advocacy team has begun reading a book called My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menekem (MSW, LICSW, SEP). I commend this resource to you if you want to grow and stretch in your understanding of yourself and others in our individual and collective journeys toward racial reconciliation and healing. Please talk with me or Pastor Jeff if you would like to connect with us and others in our congregation who want to accompany you in this important work.

Pastor Stephanie