For years, Dr. Beth Argot (Center for Excellence in World Arts) has been researching worship practices that engage the entire brain and how such practices facilitate healing from hurt and trauma. The ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage represents whole-brain worship on a huge and ancient scale.

This spring, as she walked over 500 miles from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, Dr. Argot witnessed up close how a pilgrimage can facilitate healing.

The Power of Listening

Last summer, before she walked the Camino herself, Dr. Argot drove alongside it to interview pilgrims on their journey. A principle surfaced that she recognized from her work in trauma healing: People heal when they have a chance to share their story and be heard by others . The Camino is known to spark lifelong friendships between strangers because of its opportunity for quality time and nonjudgmental listening.

Dr. Argot participated in this powerful principle during her pilgrimage. “To actually get to know people and hear their stories was the hugest thing on the Camino,” she says. She felt privileged to minister to her fellow pilgrims simply by lending a loving ear.

Dr. Argot hopes to inspire the Church to recreate that kind of loving, listening community in everyday life.

The Power of Memorial

Pilgrims also heal by setting up memorials along their way. “So many people walk the Camino to process their grief and other traumas, and doing something physical or symbolic is a helpful means in that processing,” Dr. Argot says. She frequently passed heaps of mementos during the journey.

At one of the highest elevations on the Camino sits the Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross). “Historically, people have brought a rock from home, to leave,” Dr. Argot explains. “It’s symbolizing leaving a burden, leaving something at the foot of the cross of Christ.”

Dr. Argot had the honor of bringing stones from friends in the USA to leave there. Praying for each one as she laid the stones down was a highlight of the entire journey. She even witnessed a fellow pilgrim receive miraculous relief from deep-seated trauma as he left his stone at this cross. This was an example of what she has been teaching and researching for years: physical, symbolic actions make for powerful worship and remarkable healing.

Although Dr. Argot made her pilgrimage for primarily personal reasons, her experience fits perfectly with her research and with her role as professor at DIU. In the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Trauma Healing, Dr. Argot continually teaches her students about the healing power of empathic listening,  and more. Now, she has 500 miles more of real-life examples to impart to them.

Arts and Trauma Healing Endowment Fund

Since so many seek and find healing through their Camino experience, it was only natural that Dr. Argot tied her pilgrimage to her role at DIU. Her personal journey doubled as a fundraising effort for the new Arts and Trauma Healing Endowment Fund.

As Dr. Argot witnessed among her fellow pilgrims, the world is full of trauma in every flavor. Besides causing immeasurable pain, trauma also impacts people spiritually, often causing them to be unable to consider God or spiritual matters. God makes it possible for his beloved creatures to heal from their trauma and connect with Him.  

DIU’s Graduate Certificate in Arts and Trauma Healing grew out of this need and this hope. Synthesizing biblical truths and psychological insights, the arts can help people to express their pain and find wholeness. Graduates can facilitate healing from trauma and train others to do likewise.

Why an Endowment?

Many Arts and Trauma Healing students are global Christian workers who see the effects of trauma up close. They want to help, but many do not have the financial resources to seek the training they need.

This is why Dr. Argot established the Arts and Trauma Healing Endowment Fund. It will provide scholarships that allow students to gain critical skills in trauma healing without sacrificing their ministry or overtaxing their resources.

Over $29,000 has been raised for the endowment fund to date! At $100,000, DIU can begin to use the endowment to provide Arts and Trauma Healing Scholarships. Please pray with us for provision of the final $71,000 and consider donating to the fund at diu.edu/ath-endowment.