Healing Uphill


These are trying times for all sentient beings. We are all carrying the intensity and stress in our bodies and spirits. I feel it. You feel it. In fact, we are feeling it together—sharing an experience even though interpreting and understanding it in our own unique ways. 

As a person of faith, I believe we are on a collective healing journey. As a feminist, I believe that journey continues to involve extended uphill challenges because of intersecting systems of oppression.  And that is how I understand this particular moment in time—a healing journey in a difficult uphill section on the path. As a human collective we are healing uphill. 

Healing uphill can feel like too much to bear sometimes. Healing uphill is the experience of having more and more challenges heaped on your back when you are already tired and struggling to keep going. Healing uphill is like trying to take care of yourself when you lose your job in a global pandemic and one of your kids gets sick and your landlord tells you that you are late on your rent and then your spouse comes home angry and blames you for all the stress and, well… you get the picture. Healing uphill is when you can’t seem to catch a break and things seem to just keep getting worse.  

A few weeks ago, the church I serve hosted a powerful online event called “Healing Families: Exploring Trauma Informed and Trauma Responsive Parenting.” You can watch it on YouTube. It was all about finding ways to be present with children and to ourselves in the realities of enduring and intersecting traumas. As someone who has lived, studied, and written on trauma for much of my life now, I listened with deep gratitude for the ways the speakers were framing what we all need most as human beings in the realities of trauma: love and support.

When trauma unravels our sense of safety and possibility, we need more love and support. Yet often when trauma persists, love and support get harder and harder to come by in families, in schools, and in communities.  Then there is more acting out, more hostility, more reactivity, and often more violence… more trauma. 

As a nation, as a collective, the United States of America is healing uphill. And trauma just keeps coming. Piling on more pain and reactivity and diminished relationships and stress and grief. And in these fraught days, when our uphill climb includes the specter of another, even steeper uphill stretch ahead, where are the collective sources of love and support?  This might be one of the most important questions we ask ourselves as we head into next week. 

The steeper uphill stretch that lies ahead may include epochal challenges to participatory democracy. It may include another horrifying wave of COVID deaths. It may include more unchecked militia and state-sanctioned violence. It may include more confusion and chaos about how to organize, how to resist, how to persist. All of these things are trauma. And remember we are already healing uphill.  

Please read this post not as despairing, but as an acknowledgment. These are trying times—and we are all working hard to heal uphill.  I am acknowledging this because I want you to know you are not alone. I am acknowledging this because I want us to know we have support. And I am acknowledging this because I love you—whoever you are!  We are healing uphill together—I see you and I love you and I am with you.  

And maybe on this uphill leg as we turn the corner and see the steep uphill ahead of us, we can promise each other we’ll stop when we need to along the way and remind each other to hydrate, give each other a foot massage, cry together, share a snack, tell a story, maybe even laugh together to settle our nervous systems. 

Healing uphill is not a great place to be, feminist siblings. But it is where we are. Now more than ever we need to prioritize giving each other love and support. If we can find a way to love and support each other, then the road ahead will not just be an uphill battle, it will be healing underway.

Marcia Mount Shoop is an author, theologian, and minister. She is the Pastor/Head of Staff at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Asheville, NC. Her newest book, released from Cascade Books in October 2015, is A Body Broken, A Body Betrayed: Race, Memory, and Eucharist in White-Dominant Churches, co-authored with Mary McClintock Fulkerson. Marcia is also the author of Let the Bones Dance: Embodiment and the Body of Christ (WJKP, 2010) and Touchdowns for Jesus and Other Signs of Apocalypse: Lifting the Veil on Big-Time Sports (Cascade, 2014).  Find out more at www.marciamountshoop.com



Categories: General, Healing

Tags: , , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. Thank you, Marcia. This is much needed and very much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Marie. I am grateful that it feel supportive to you. Your affirmation is good support for me, too. Sending love your way!
    Peace,
    Marcia

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, you’ve written an acknowledgment of what we can’t help but see up and down the road. But lots of us are still filled with or touched by despair. What you say may still happen–Covid deaths, violence, confusion, chaos–probably will still happen. But it’s GOOD to read that you say we’re healing, even if it is uphill healing. Let’s just think about the healing. Pray for it. Cheer every little bit we spot in a __________ world (fill in the blank).

    Multitudinous thanks for writing this post today. I feel marginally cheered already. Bright blessings to healing uphill instead of wounding downhill. Bright blessings for your optimism!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Barbara. I am with you in terms of the probability of these really hard and chaotic and painful things happening. And, I think in a deep place, this excruciating leg of the journey is the disease of white supremacy and patriarchy losing a foothold in our collective existence. The pain is real. And I have to trust the promise of a better world to keep going! Kind of like transition labor–we’re in the grip of those really, really hard contractions. I know I am a lot better at dealing with pain when I am surrounded with support. I am thankful to be on this journey with many who are walking in the same direction. Blessings to you and sending love your way!
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Like

  4. Thank you for the love and the companionship on this hard uphill way!

    Like

  5. What a wonderful and truthful post! I see this exhaustion all over, where I used to work, in family members, in friends. I’m hopeful that maybe once we get through this tough time that one lasting effect will be that we have all learned that it is ok to take care of ourselves and each other, even if it means that not all the work gets done or expectations are met, and that we can all give each other more grace — if something goes wrong or doesn’t get done, let blame go and fix it or do it together. Thank you for these thoughts and insights!

    Like

    • Thank you, Carolyn. Yes, I, too, pray we have learned about being gentle with ourselves and each other through all of this–and that the learning and growth can translate into new habits and ways of being together. Blessings to you!
      Peace,
      Marcia

      Like

  6. All of this and PTSD (and co-morbidities), this last week has broken me. My beautiful young cat died after a saddle thrombosis and then was the 10-year anniversary of a sibling’s demise, with all of the extended family gone now; the insanity of current resident-Evil; and the COVID to top everything off. Your article gave me hope for I know that all these things and worse are going on right now for others. Some days, like today, it’s 1 minute at a time. Thank you kindly.

    Like

  7. Dear Karena,
    Thank you for sharing some of what you are holding right now. You are right–some days it is just too much, too heavy to bear. I am breathing through the pain with you–and I am praying you are gentle with yourselves. I am praying you will give your body and spirit what you need to feel grounded and supported–a walk, time with a friend, tears, laughter, a nap, prayer, energy work. Whatever it is, I am praying that support is there for you. With all you are holding, the way you are feeling makes a lot of sense. I am sending you love as you grieve and take things one minute at a time.
    Peace,
    Marcia

    Like

  8. Marcia, before I started to read your great article, I already loved the title of ” Healing Uphill” . I really loved your words and yes let’s think positive and take good care of ourselves and therefore for others. I had just lost a dear friend last week not necessarily to Covid , but to deep depression. We all need to be positive for the good turn out of this coming election.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thank you for this essay. I so love the concept of “healing uphill.” It is hopeful while at the same time realistic of what families, individuals, all of us face at times in our lives and esp. now in the world. It reminds me of a shamanic quest which is the idea of overcoming obstacles as part of the journey to wholeness. It is so easy to lose sight of this larger picture when we are immersed in the stress. Thanks for the reminder.

    Like

  10. I always can count on you to remind us we are in a body. Let us all remember to settle our nervous systems and those of others. (As simple as offering a sip of water.) Thank you Pastor!

    Like

  11. I always can count on you to remind us we are in a body. Let us all remember to settle our nervous systems and those of others. (As simple as offering a sip of water.) Thank you Pastor!

    Like

  12. This is certainly an extremely difficult time. Thank you for the gentle reminders and encouragement.

    Like

  13. Thank you, Liz. I pray we are all finding ways to settle our nervous systems in these intense times!
    Peace,
    Marcia

    Like

Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: