Joy Lynn, SP staff in the Middle East, and her refugee friends experience the power of art to calm and to heal the soul, even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
What a day! The last two hours before class at our community center were exceptionally chaotic. New and old friends came with all sorts of urgent needs and had many demands being asked from their survival technique of entitlement. Even though our team has been growing in resilience under pressure and responding to the demands in truth with love, I was swamped and frustrated. I looked at my watch and realized that it was time to start my class. It was the last day of Peaceful Spirit, an eight week art and healing course I designed specifically for the refugees in our center. I was about to share in Arabic about grounding hope, but I was completely flustered! Turning from the chaos outside, I took a breath and entered into my class.
There was almost an instant change of atmosphere. All my students had arrived early, grabbed their files, and were sitting peacefully coloring. They each looked up from their coloring for a brief second to greet me, welcoming me into their calm.
Initially, coloring was the opening exercise I intended to make space for late arrivals so that they didn’t miss anything “important.” Unexpectedly, coloring time became the important element that consistently brought my students early. I realized they had experienced something truly powerful through this course in something as simple as coloring; they learned to separate themselves from the communal chaos of others by taking responsibility for themselves and leaving others to take responsibility for their own selves. It was a great ending to what God had already been doing in the students through the whole term.
This Peaceful Spirit art and healing course provides a place for our refugee friends to heal from the trauma of leaving their war-torn country and the trauma of living in a new place riddled with racism. They find space to explore how they are made beautiful by God, what triggers their emotional reactions, how to manage them appropriately, and how to replace lies from others with the truth of God. They learn how to tell the truth, to grieve, to forgive others, and to stay grounded in hope. Each lesson is paired with a creative project to help them engage with the healing concept.
Art creates a safe space for the displaced to tell their stories as people made well by God without being exploited for their story as a victim. Art gives these refugees a new platform for their voice. As they share what they create, art is giving them a new strength to process their lives and to overcome their survival coping mechanisms, rediscovering their cultural strengths. Art brings them peace in a world of chaos and also gives me the freedom to share my story and the source of my hope and healing.
Please pray for all the past and future students who will participate in Peaceful Spirit. May they encounter true Hope and the only Peace that surpasses understanding.