Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Leaves. Branches, Trunk, and Roots

This is the text of the reflections I offered at the congregation I serve in Charlottesville, Virginia on Sunday, October 21, 2018

You can find it in the myths and folklore of pretty much all Mesoamerican cultures; it shows up in lot's of other cultures, too.  Hungarians called it, “égig érő fa,” the Sky-High Tree, and “életfa,” the Tree of Life.  To the Norse it was, “Yggdrasil,” the World Tree.  At the base of which was the pool of the wise woman Mimir, on which Odin sacrificed himself to learn the secrets of the rune stones and of magic, and into which Lif and Lifthrasir will be hidden during Ragnarök so that after all the destruction they might emerge as the first man and first woman and start it all again.  The World Tree motif shows up in religious myths throughout the world.  It is an example of the axis mundi, the center, the pillar, of the world and the cosmos, and it connects the heaves – which rest on its canopy – the earth, and the underworld – into which its roots grow.  In his book Creation of theSacred: Tracks of Biology in Early Religions, scholar Walter Burket suggests that because our ancient primate ancestors living in trees for roughly 60 million years, the idea of a world sustaining, life sustaining tree was coded in our DNA.

Trees aren’t just cosmic symbols, either.  At a tree planting ceremony I attended some years ago, the worship leader noted that a remarkably large number of people, if asked, could name at least one tree that held a special place in their hearts.  We went around the circle, and sure enough — everyone had a story.  For one it was about a tree that one of their children planted when they were in elementary school, and how they watched that tree grow along with their child until it, too, became bigger than the house.  Another person spoke about a tree on their grandparents’ property, in which they climbed when they were little, played in a treehouse when they were older, snuck out for a smoke under when they were older still, and how personal and painful it felt when that tree eventually had to be cut down.  I remember someone else talking about how, while visiting Sequoia National Park, they were deeply moved by the realization of just how old those trees were, and how much of history they had witnessed.  “If only those trees could talk,” they said.  Maybe you can think of such a tree.

The Trappist monk, Fr. Thomas Merton, once wrote, “Nothing has ever been said about God that has not already been said better by the wind in the pine trees.”  (Nature has often been called “God’s other Bible.”)  Emerson talked about how being in the woods brought him to a profound spiritual place:

In the woods, we return to reason and faith.  There I feel that nothing can befall me in life, -- no disgrace, no calamity, (leaving me my eyes,) which nature cannot repair.  Standing on the bare ground, -- my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, -- all mean egotism vanishes.  I become a transparent eye-ball.  I am nothing.  I see all.  The currents of the Universal Being circulate through me; I am part or particle of God.

I’ve known many people who, when things are hard, find a tree to rest against, to feel through their backs its strength and stability.  Maybe you have, too.

This morning I want to explore this symbol, the tree, in an even more personal way.  But first, a little science:

There are five structures that make up a tree:  roots, trunk, branches, leaves, and seeds. 

Roots are usually the first part of a plant to emerge during germination, and they have two primary purposes:  to bring water and nutrients from the soil up into the tree, and to provide stability.  Some plants have roots that grow deep; others spread themselves wide.  In her poem “Connections Are MadeSlowly” (which is number #568 in our hymnal, and is also called, "The Seven of Pentacles"), the poet Marge Piercy reminds us that “more than half a tree is spread out under your feet.”

When I looked up the purpose of the tree trunk, what I found again and again was the simple statement that it’s what connects the roots to the canopy, the foliage at the very top of the tree.  It is the in-between.  You might be tempted, as I was, to think that this makes it the reason for a tree’s existence, since nutrients come down to it from the leaves, and up to it from the roots.  It is more accurate to say that the seed is the purpose of the tree, the continuation of the species, and so we come again to the role of the tree being that which connects the roots and the canopy.

There are four parts to the trunk – the bark, cambium, xylem, and heartwood.  The bark, we know, because it’s the part we see, the outermost part that, like our epithelial layer, serves to protect the more delicate parts inside.  And -- again, like our skin -- the outer bark is made up of dead cells.  I say “outer bark” because there’s an inner bark that’s quite a bit different.  It has its own name – phloem – yet it’s not consider a separate part of the tree.  The phloem is filled with, made up of, tubes, like drinking straws, and it is through these tubes that the water and nutrients the roots have taken from the soil pass up into the tree.

I’m going to skip over the cambium, the next layer, for a moment, and direct our attention to the xylem.  This is sort of like a reverse phloem.  The xylem is also made up of straw-like tubes, only these are what bring the food created by the leaves’ photosynthesis down to the rest of the tree.  Eventually, though, the cells of the xylem die, and it becomes part of the heartwood, the very center of the tree, a dead layer that provides the tree’s stability.

I skipped over the cambium, the layer between the phloem and the xylem, because, if I’ve understood what I read correctly, it’s made up of cells that can become either of those other two layers depending on the tree’s needs -- it can become phloem or xylem.  Like our stem cells, I suppose, the cells of the cambium become what’s needed of them, and in a very real sense they’re what makes the growth rings as the tree ages.

So that’s the roots and the trunk.  (And I promise, the science lesson will be over soon, but all of this is important background to get the most out of the tree’s symbolism as I want to talk about it this morning.)  The branches are the tree’s way of getting the leaves out into the sunlight.  That’s why they grow the way they do, twisting this way and that, growing around things, even getting entangled with other things.  Yet if you really look at them, they're always moving upward.  Branches are the vehicle the tree uses to move the leaves to the places where they'll get maximum exposure to the sun.  This makes it possible for leaves to work their magic of photosynthesis, turning sunlight, air, and water into sugar, the food the tree most needs.

And as I suggested earlier, you could say that the purpose of all of this – the reason for the roots, trunk, branches, and leaves – is so that the tree can produce seeds, whether in fruit, wings, cones, or husks.  The purpose of the tree is its propagation, the eternal perpetuation of itself, its species.

Okay.  So.  Here we go:

Let’s say that the trunk is us.  You, me; any of us.  We, like the trunk of the tree, live between the roots which go down (metaphorically, into the past), and upward to the leaves, the canopy (which can be seen as a metaphor for the future).

We draw on those who came before, drawing into us all the legacy they have left us: the strength, the wisdom, the foibles and follies, even the lessons we can gleam from their failures.  This inheritance nourishes us.  The image on the wall behind me [and above] may look like a traditional family tree, yet it is different.  It was designed with the special needs of adopted families in mind, because families created through adoption do not have a single path for their roots.  My children are connected to the ancestors of their birth parents, and even though we’re not related by blood, they are connected to my ancestors and those of my wife.  And their children, and their children’s children, will also have this wider lineage.  

Looking at the roots of a family tree in this way is good for non-adoptive families.  Each of us, all of us, have ancestors who support us, who provide us with sustenance, from whom we draw spiritual and emotional nourishment, who are not related to us by blood.  Next Sunday is our annual Ancestors Sunday service, a part of which is the creation of an ancestors altar onto which we place photographs, mementos, and other objects to recognize and honor these roots -- all of these roots.  (So remember to bring your objects with you!)

For us, today, we are the trunk.  We, too, have a layer of emotional and spiritual protection, and it’s often made up for the most part of assumptions, habits, and patterns of our past which no longer serve us.  Which, in a sense, are no longer really "alive."  This isn’t necessarily bad – these things have served us in the past, and they can still provide the protection we need.  But not always.  Sometimes we have to be like the Shagbark Hickory, certain varieties of Maple, and the White Birch, which shed their bark regularly.  It is a beautiful thing to come across these peelings which have exposed a new (and renewed) layer of protection for the tree.

It’s worth noting, too, that this outer layer largely made up of outmoded parts of our histories is intimately tied to the part of us which is drawing up the gifts of our ancestors.  They are not unrelated.  Together, they both help us to weather the … well … weather.

We also draw sustenance from our futures, odd as that might seem.  We, too, are here in large part for them, those who have not yet come.  I often say that our congregation must be strong and healthy now, not only for ourselves, but also for those who haven’t yet come.  Just as our ancestors planted this community 75 years ago, we, too, are preparing for future generations.

If we are wise, if we are grounded, then we also have a part of ourselves, a dimension of our consciousness, our hearts, our spirit, (call it what you will,) that adapts to the needs of the moment, helping us to discern what will feed us most, right here and right now.  Do we call upon our ancestors, our past, our inheritance, or in this instance do we really need to draw strength from the future?  Like the tree’s cambium, it is good to be able to adapt as needed.

Then there's the heartwood … perhaps that’s just what it sounds like, for in a very real sense it is our hearts which provide us with our greatest strength and stability.

Maybe you're already ahead of me.  Our branches are the ways we reach out to the warm glow of relationships.  We humans are a communal species; you and I were not built to go it alone.  Sometimes the route to real relationships is circuitous; sometimes we have to wend and wind our way to get there.  If we listen deeply and well, we will always be moving toward love.

Then there are the leaves, the interactions, the kindnesses done, the generosity shown, the gifts shared – these things make that love real, and make it possible for us to produce seeds that will live on.  A recurrent theme in virtually every memorial service I’ve ever officiated is that the person being remembered, mourned, and celebrated had lived a life that would live on in the memories, in the lives, of the people who remain.  Over and over again I’ve heard people say, essentially, that they intend to move forward from their loss with something of their loved one inside them, growing, shaping their futures.  And, of course, these same people talk about how they hope to pass these gifts on to their children, and their children’s children, and on through the generations to come.

Leaves, branches, trunk, and roots,
It takes all of the tree to be a tree.
If any part were missing,
Or different,
It could not be what is.
Neither can we.
Leaves, branches, trunk, and roots,
Where we came from,
Who we are,
And where we’re going
Is what makes us, us.

 May we learn the lessons of the trees.

Pax tecum,


Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Eve Was Framed

Artist Unknown
This is the text of the reflections I offered on Sunday, October 7, 2018 at the congregation I serve in Charlottesville, Virginia.

There’s a joke I’ve always loved, but always have to look up to make sure I get it right.  When I looked it up (again) this week I discovered that in a 2005 poll in the UK it had been voted the funniest religious joke:

I was walking across a bridge one day, and I saw a man standing on the edge, about to jump. I ran over and said: "Stop. Don't do it."

"Why shouldn't I?" he asked.

"Well, there's so much to live for!"

"Like what?"

"Are you religious?"

He said: "Yes."

I said: "Me too. Are you Christian or Buddhist?"


"Me too. Are you Catholic or Protestant?"


"Me too. Are you Episcopalian or Baptist?"


"Wow. Me too. Are you Baptist Church of God or Baptist Church of the Lord?"
"Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you original Baptist Church of God, or are you Reformed Baptist Church of God?"

"Reformed Baptist Church of God."

"Me too. Are you Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1879, or Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915?"

He said: "Reformed Baptist Church of God, Reformation of 1915."

I said: "Die, heretic scum," and pushed him off.

There’s one thing everybody seems to be united on these days, and that’s the fact that we’re so divided.  Whether we’re talking about the country, a local community, our families … it seems that everybody’s taking “sides:”  Liberal and Conservative.  Women and Men.  Old and Young.  Pro-Kavanaugh and Anti-Kavanaugh. Laurel and Yanni.  (People who get that joke and people who don’t.)

It seems that we humans have always been tribal by nature, have always dichotomized “us” and “them.”  After all, we humans are social animals by nature, and we’re decidedly ill-quipped for living in isolation – ill-equipped both physically and by temperament.  We need one another.  By living in groups, with others, our ancestors were able to share resources, and were better able to protect themselves from threats.  And because we evolved in small groups, there was an adaptive advantage to being able to discern who is in you group and who isn’t.  “Us” and “Them” isn’t a new phenomenon.  At one point our survival depended on it, so much so that it’s as if it’s been encoded in our DNA.

And many people think that “religion” – writ large – is one of the most effective ways we humans have ever devised for perpetuating the perennial problem of partitioning the “saved” from the “damned.”  Look at all the religious wars that have ever been fought – that are still being fought – and you can see all the proof, if proof you’re looking for, that “religion” is dangerously divisive. Some say that it’s really religion’s only purpose. 

Last week I threw out my planned reflections because I couldn’t imagine not speaking to the blatant display of our culture’s misogyny that was taking place in those Senate hearings.  Coincidentally (or not) for more than a month it had been my plan to reflect this morning on the roots of sexism and misogyny in the Judeo-Christian traditions that can arguably be said to be the foundation of Western culture(s).  This week I read something that provides a clear bridge between these two explorations.  In defending Kavanaugh, and, more to the point, attacking Dr. Ford, someone tweeted, “What did you expect?  Women have been nothing but trouble for men ever since Eve gave that apple to Adam!”

There’s no question that the Jewish and Christian scriptures have been used in some grossly damaging ways.  The apostle Paulwrote to the fledgling church in Corinth, for instance: “Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.”  That’s just one example of what the Biblical Scholar Dr. Phyllis Trible described as “texts of terror.”  (Which is also the name of her important 1984 book.)  To take another example, this time from the Gospels, there’s a story told in the Bookof Matthew about a Canaanite woman who desperately pleaded with Jesus to heal her daughter.  Jesus is recorded as saying, essentially, that he’d come to save the Jewish people and that he wouldn’t waste a healing on a non-Jew.  (The text actually reads, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”)

And then, of course, you have Eve.  Most people know at least the broad strokes of the myth.  Adam and Eve were living in the literal, actual “Garden of Eden.” The character of God tells them that they can do anything they want, enjoy everything they see, but that the one thing they absolutely must not do is to eat any of the fruit from the tree in the center of the garden, the tree known as “The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”  Well, wouldn’t you know it, the Devil, in the form of a snake, convinces Eve (silly woman that she is) that it’s perfectly okay to eat that fruit, which, of course, she does.  And then she tempts Adam, so that he also breaks God’s one and only limit.  And for this, the two are unceremoniously evicted from the Garden, and we’ve been locked out ever since.

As if to overly reinforce Eve’s role in all of this – her responsibility for all of this – Biblical commentators have, over the centuries, said that Eve "tempted, beguiled, lured, corrupted, persuaded, […] urged, used wicked persuasion, led into wrongdoing, proved herself an enemy, used guile and cozening, tears and lamentations, to prevail upon Adam."  So, what do you expect?  Women have been causing trouble for men ever since Eve gave Adam that apple!

It's passages like these that have led many to argue – even many UUs to argue, even some UUs here to argue –  that religion is irredeemable, since it is forged in, and reinforces, patriarchy (among other things).  And it’s not just the Jewish and Christian traditions!  Even Buddhism, in its sutras, describes the signs of a Buddha – hair in a certain pattern, skin of a certain color, a particular type of genitals.  In other words, men only need apply.

I would argue that these are a perversion of religion’s truest, deepest message.  I love verse 49 of the Holy Qur’an, which says, “O humankind!  We have […] made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that you may despise each other).”  We’re different, yes, but we’re different in order to learn from one another.  Built into the fabric of the Muslim faith – and I’d argue the fabric of every faith – there is this sense that we are, as I’ve put it, “one human family, on one fragile planet, in one miraculous universe, bound by love.”

Dr. Trible’s book Texts of Terror: Literary-Feminist Readings of Biblical Narratives is not just a litany of texts that have been used to oppress and subjugate, particularly, women.  It’s also an offering of ways to reclaim what she believes, as do I and many others, the underlying message of unity and equality, the real, foundational message of faith.

In literary studies there’s something called “the hermeneutics of suspicion.”  It says, essentially, to pay close attention to what a text doesn’t say.  So that passage from Paul in which he tells women to sit down and be quiet?  She’d say that it actually provides proof that in the early Christian church women were vocal leaders – why else would you need to tell them to sit?  And Jesus’ interaction with the Canaanite woman in which he calls her a “dog”?  It continues with the woman responding that even dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table.  The story then says that Jesus stopped in his tracks, praised her faith (and, no doubt, determination and powerful sense of self) as being greater than any he had seen among his own people, and heals her daughter. Actually, he says that her faith healed her daughter.  The story can be read not as one of a man disparaging a woman (although that’s certainly in there).  The story really is about a strong woman changing Jesus’ awareness and the course of his teachings, because the author of Matthew records that from that time forward Jesus never again talks about his mission as being to one group only, but, rather, to the whole world.  Tribalism was replaced by a recognition of our common humanity.

What Eve?  That story can be read as showing women to be God’s ultimate creation, since she was created after Adam, just as he was created after the animals and was describes as superior to them.  Additionally, the text says nothing about Eve “tempting” Adam.  Instead, it says simply that “she gave some to her husband and he ate.”  Some say that like most parents, God knew that the prohibition against eating the fruit of that tree was the best way to guarantee that they would do so; that it was actually part of the plan, because “the knowledge of good and evil” is part of what makes us human.  We have the ability to discern right action from behaviors that hurt and harm, and with that knowledge we can consciously choose which to do.

There’s one thing everybody seems to be united on these days, and that’s the fact that we’re so divided.  And while that may have been an evolutionary benefit in the early days of our specie’s development, it is a danger to us today.  We are fundamentally social animals, and if we evolved in small groups, today we absolutely must recognize that we live on a very small planet, and that continuing to divide humanity into “us” and “them” will not keep us safe, it will guarantee our demise.

What will save us?  What the story I read earlier was all about – kindness.  One of our hymns has the line, “kindness can heal us,” and it may, in truth, be the only thing that can – whether on the interpersonal level or the level of nations.  “Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.” Ms. Albert said to her class.  “Each kindness […] makes the whole world a little bit better.”

Divisiveness may be encoded in our DNA, but thanks to the mythical Eve we can choose to continue to follow patterns that no longer serve to keep us safe and to, instead, embrace our common humanity.  We must learn that we are all of the same tribe.  And we must learn to be kind to one another.

Pax tecum,


Monday, October 01, 2018

A Reason to Hope

This is the text of the reflections I offered on September 30, 2018 at the Unitarian Universalist congregation I serve in Charlottesville, VA

TV writer Aaron Fullerton photoshopped an image from inside the room in the U.S. Capitol,
next to a dystopian government meeting in the show on Twitter
As I listened on Thursday to the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, I knew that what I’d planned to reflect on this morning had to be set aside.  This happens to preachers from time to time.  I’ve had it happen as late as while I was stepping into the pulpit.  I know someone who says that there’ve been a time or two when they finished composing their sermon when they sat down after delivering it.  I at least had a few days, which was time enough to pass a draft by other eyes and hearts.  I’m glad I did, because they saved me from my worst inclinations – to fill this time with statistics, and analysis, politics.  To avoid, in other words, literally the heart of the matter.  The statistics are staggering, yet it’s the stories and the women who tell them that really matters.
Before I go any further, though, I do want to say that while I won’t be talking in any kind of explicit detail, I understand that any discussion of the way(s) our patriarchal, misogynist society degrades and dehumanizes women might be a rough sermon for some people.  If you find these reflections bringing up painful things for you, please listen to your body and your heart; reach out to others for support.  Rev. Alex is available to listen, as am I, Leia, Chris, and members of our lay Pastoral Visitors.  Your Covenant Group might be a safe space.  Perhaps a close friend or a member of your family.  What I’m getting at is that if your feelings are too large to hold, and if it is all possible, please don’t try to hold them alone.
I also want to say, here at the outset, that I recognize the last thing some of you may want is another straight, white, gender-conforming man pontificating about something that he – that I – really can’t know much about.  That’s not quite right.  I can know, but I can’t really fully understand, can’t fully comprehend, because I’m a straight, white, gender-conforming man who grew up in this country during the last half century.  I know that the anger I’ve felt these past few weeks, the disgust, is nothing compared to the anger, the pain, sometimes the shame, the grief, the fear, the exhaustion so many women have had to carry for their whole lives … which many of you have had to carry.
Over the past year, since the #MeToo movement began, a number of women I’ve known have used Facebook and other social media platforms to tell the story of their experience of sexual harassment, abuse, and assault.  All too often it was their stories, in the plural, because so many had more than one.  These women courageously, defiantly, wrote about their experience — some for the first time. They wrote of being harassed, attacked, abused, and assaulted by strangers, friends, and family.  One friend of mine from high school had a list that began with harassment in elementary school and continued throughout her life.
None of this should have been surprising.  I know the statistics — most of you probably do too —they are … alarming (to say the least).  Yet I was surprised, and shocked, deeply saddened, and really, really angry that women I’ve known have had to suffer in silence for so long.  Have had to suffer with this at all.  That’s how oblivious I’ve been able to be — I’ve been able to see, yet not see.  The dominant misogynist, white supremacist, classist, heterosexist culture in which we live does such a good job of putting a clean and polished veneer on everything, and is expert at deflecting attention:
Don’t look too hard at those young black men being shot in the streets.  Call it an anomaly, a few bad apples — don’t see the systems this violence stems from and supports.
Don’t look too hard at the staggering — and increasing — wealth gap between those with the most and those with the least — don’t see the structures that guarantee this disparity.
Don’t look too hard at the mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, aunts, grandmothers, co-workers, teachers — all those women who have been … and are being … assaulted at a rate that’s equivalent to one act of sexual violence against a woman every 98 seconds.  Oh no, don’t look too hard at any of that, and especially don’t look at all the many, many ways ways large and small that women are harassed and abused on a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment basis.  These things won’t make the evening news, yet they work together to create the cultural context from within which some men can believe they have the right to treat women as less-than-human, and other men are able (even if unconsciously) to see the truth that’s right in front of their eyes.
In this room there are women who have stories they could tell, many of whom have no doubt never told anyone except, perhaps, a therapist or a very close friend.  I imagine that some of these women have lit Candles over the years.  These stories are most certainly among those things that have “gone unsaid,” for which we light that last candle each week.  So let me say what shouldn’t need to be said but might:  these stories — your stories — have a place in the sanctuary of our hearts.  To the extent it is possible, we see you, we hear you, and we believe you, even if you never say a word.
“Women” is not a monolithic category, any more than any other group is of one mind at all times.  The past few weeks have been hard in a variety of ways, for a variety of reasons.  And the last few days?  The papers are saying that the nation was “captivated,” “riveted,” by the scene that played out in the Senate.  “Captivated?”  “Riveted”?  Those are words we use to describe action movies and thrillers.  “Sitting on the edge of your seat.”  Yet this wasn’t a performance.  This was just about as clear a distillation of our country’s dominant misogynist culture as anyone could want.  It was infuriating, nauseating, forehead slapping how-can-anyone-not-see-what’s-going-on – ing.  It was surprising and horrifying for those who’ve been able to avoid the truth of the way women are, and have been, treated in our society.  It was wearingly predictable for those who live that truth.
A week or two ago a member of the congregation stood during Joys & Sorrows to share that she had been remembering roughly 25 years ago, during the hearings concerning the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court when he was accused of sexual harassment by Dr. Anita Hill, she and her friends talked about how their generation was going to change things – they were going to raise their sons to reject the patriarchal/misogynist culture that was on such clear display in those hearings, and they would choose partners who already had.  That was in 1991, and here we are again.  It can feel – it does feel for many – that nothing has changed and that nothing is ever really going to change.  And that can lead some women (and some feminist men) to a kind of hopelessness, a demoralization born from decades upon decades of denigration and dehumanization.
There’s a school of thought which says that all sermons must end on a note of hope.  A preacher should send the congregation back into the world with inspiration.  I’m not sure that I believe that as strongly as some do, yet there is some truth in that.  And despite the way things seem right now, many of my female friends have told me that they take hop in the fact that “here” is not exactly the same as it was back then.  From the Women’s March, to the #MeToo Movement, to the predicted – hoped for –  “blue wave” (which shows every sign of being led by women , and especially women of color), there seems to be a wider and growing awareness today of what has for too long, by too many, been too ignored.  And there is a greater willingness to call things as they are or, perhaps, a refusal to let that truth continue to be ignored.
On Thursday the world witnessed a petulant poster-child for patriarchy bluster his was around the thing being unsaid:  that straight, white, gender-conforming men (and especially straight, white, gender-conforming men of means) are entitled to use and abuse women in any way that they like just as they are entitled to everything else in life.  Kavanaugh – and those male Senators who sat in judgement looking for all the world like the tribunal of Commanders in the Handmaid’s Tale – was a personification of the problem.
And there was Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who came forward to tell her story knowing the vilification that would be hurled at her like so much excrement.  She came forward – in front of the cameras, in front of the world – to speak clearly and courageously about the egregious harm that had been done to her, not only by this man, but also by the society which gave this man permission and which demanded of her acquiescence.
I asked one of my friends who’d shared her story online, sharing parts of it for the first time if she was okay, after sharing so publicly something that had until then been entirely private.  She said, simply, that she was ready to share.  And whether it’s in a Senate hearing on national television, on a person’s Facebook page, or with a hashtag at the end of a tweet, more and more women are finding themselves “ready to share.”  In numbers that would have been inconceivable not all that long ago, women are bravely telling the truth of this culture, the truth that so many just don’t want to acknowledge, and seems as though more people are willing, and able, to listen.  In that I pray we can all find some hope.

Pax tecum,