Paul Murray in his book Scars writes: ‘by naming, through poems and stories, the black stone of affliction - the stone that had no name but weighed heavily on our hearts - the weight of the stone is somehow lifted. We are touched by God’s grace, and healing begins’. This reflects the journey that people take through trauma which leads ultimately, if processed, to post-traumatic growth.
For the traumatised person or community to begin to heal, the story of the trauma needs to be told and witnessed in a safe space. It needs to be reframed and meaning then needs to be made from the trauma.
Lamentations is a book of poetry in which a story of trauma is told. It comprises five poems, each being given a structure that reflects the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. This is in sharp contrast to the disorder of the experience and memories of trauma itself. The poem gives voice to the anonymous author’s account of the siege of Jerusalem and the devastation which followed. Like the psalms of lament, lamentations is about protest - protesting to God and to anyone who will listen. It is also about providing a place to process confusion. While there is a glimpse of reframing and meaning making in Lamentations 3:22-23, the overwhelming feel of the book is about bearing witness to the story of overwhelming trauma.