So many nights right now hold more questions than answers. Sleep beckons, then eluded capture. Thoughts and feelings tumble over each other for center stage.
So what is true? What is true for tonight is the Presence. It is both not enough and more than enough.
I remember early in my recovery process in 1998 night times were terrifying. Memories often came back at night, and there was no way to know what new truth might come into full knowing. The brain works that way, processing trauma as it heals. I often would fall asleep to Fernando Ortega: Jesus King of Angels. The words washed over me, allowing me to surrender and sleep.
So for tonight a bedtime prayer:
🌛the peace of God be over me to shelter me, 🌜under me to uphold me, 🌙about me to protect me, ⭐️behind me to direct me, 🌟ever with me to save me. 💫The peace of all peace be mine this night. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I am a keeper of story…her-story. Today I have bathed in words; hard words. Pulled my shirt off, made me get into bed, cut, no food, so tired, so thirsty, told I had to, pulled my legs open, no choices, wouldn’t listen to my no.
What horror is being described here? Let your mind connect the dots, your imagination fill in the blank.
It sounds like sexual violence. One in three children in America. It must stop! When do we say “no more”?
I fight for this.
But these words frame stories of obstetric violence. “Birth rape”, some call it. One in three women in America; cut. Countless more stripped of their dignity. Her story packed in a box and tied with a bow, with a tag that reads “at least you have a healthy baby”. Maybe. This hospital bag may take a lifetime to unpack.
How did the gender roles of your childhood fill in that blank?
In the circles of my childhood, girls were to be sweet and nice and silent.
There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. And when she was good she was very, very good. And when she was bad she was horrid.
My dad would trace an imaginary curl on my forehead as he quoted that. It always have me chills.
The good girl of those years was not safe to speak up. But good girls grow up. Some stay sweet and nice and silent. They fill church pews and PTA groups.
But some girls find their voice.
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak. (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
A woman who has found her voice is beautiful and strong. She knows how to speak for those who have no voice. She calls out injustice. She cries out on behalf of the poor, the disenfranchised, the child without a home.
This week, truth has asked me to stand up against embezzlement. It has asked me to name sexual harassment for what it is. It has caused me to fight for midwives being treated with respect by hospital colleagues.
Wisdom cries out in the streets, she raises her voice in the public squares. (Proverbs 1:20)
When do we begin to name what is? So many places in our culture have a different set of rules. Let the phrases trickle through your mind that you have heard over the years: that’s just how it is in medicine, that’s the job of the church, that’s how people talk in sports.
When do we begin to name what is? There are words for this: sexual harassment, spiritual abuse, bullying. It takes courage to use the names. It takes courage to call what I see in me what it is: Control, contempt, manipulation. I learned to call it by nicer names. Those names do not recognize the violence for what it is. Even when there are no words: Silence can be violence as well.
It takes courage to name what is. Courage comes each day like Grace. It is not something that I have to drum up; it is given.
The movie “spotlight” is a powerful voice in the long overdue work of giving voice to victims of sexual abuse. It addresses the issue with respect, with courage, and with relentless curiosity. What came out at the end of the day was far bigger than anyone ever expected.
This is not a movie about the evils of the Catholic church. It could be any church. It could be any school. It could be any city.
It is a movie about silence. And it is a movie about the systems that uphold that silence.
Because the reality is: it is my church, my school, my city. It is, in fact, my story.
Where does the path lead? And who will have the courage to connect the dots?