I am grateful to listen to people tell their stories, which can be messy, disorganized, or in transition. They can be filled with pain, tragedy, longing, and loss. How we tell our stories and own our stories matters. How we are allowed to have our stories matters.
Sometimes demographics just don’t fit denominational goals. Sometimes the local way of life works against the imposed model of church. Sometimes the flaws in the context undermine engagement.
We connected via email to begin a conversation where I was the student and she was the teacher. I told her I wanted to learn from her “un-churched” experience.
The first image that comes to mind when hearing “the Pacific Coast” is one of Beach-Boy-sunny-shores, surfers, bikini-clad sunbathers, and children building sand castles. But there is so much more.
An artist in Tennessee named Cheryl Prose makes art pieces corresponding to #MeToo stories that move her. She began with stories of friends, and came across my story in Sojourners. Since then she read my memoir, and this piece is based on the memoir.
My assailant was someone I had been in a relationship with which is why I never reported it. Who would have believed me? I wasn’t sure I believed it myself.
most days I don’t think about the men who betrayed me
the men who saw the line and crossed it
the men who watched them do it
the men who told me to be quiet.
I asked him question after question about what he was doing in seminary, what he believed about God. After a while I went in for the big question: “How do you know that there is a God? What if God doesn’t exist?” As I cried, he made his move.
The more fundamental reason I did not want to write or preach this sermon is because I felt too close to it. My father survived sexual assault as a child and he did not remember it until he was in his 50s.
I haven’t thought of this in decades.