(Part 2)

Matthew 25:35-39 KJV

[35] For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: [36] Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. [37] Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee ? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? [38] When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee ? [39] Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

When Charles went to juvenile detention for a plea bargained mitigation of a monstrous charge, he received support, letters, cards, an outpouring of support.

I attributed this odd behavior from “good people” (rewarding a child abuser) thus–

  • They did not trust our report?
  • They did not full understand the devastation of his felonies
  • Or Matthew 25 oh, somebody in prison? I better get in on that reward!

Could have been something else, but whatever the motivations, his victims often did not get the same level of support he did. The people who comforted Charles did not comfort his victims.

Only two people outside our family confronted him on his sins.

To this day he does not acknowledge

What he did was wrong

There are lots of hard parts within the gaps between what the

Lord and the Righteous see

Machine Translation

The old woman and the older woman sit down across a flimsy folding table. Between them there is a plexiglass barrier, the kind you might encounter now at a doctor’s office or the checkout line at the grocery store.

This time we all know we are contagious, right?

They type into complementary machines–one English to Korean and the other Korean to English

Do not forgive these Korean letters, forgive something else if you will.

The devastating depths men may plunge to

If the womenfolk fail to speak.

Ah-buh-nim

The little boy in the picture wore the most adorable overalls

And brand-spanking-new shoes

He approached the chicken in the unfamiliar garden

With the utmost deference,

The pears still hung on the trees, each carefully wrapped in old newspapers to shield them from pestilence

An unseasonably warm day to worship one’s ancestors and

The food at the restaurant was good

Something about historically accurate food

In the last few moments before

The two little red-headed children

Reported

All they saw–aggressor-accomplice-victim

The little boy in the picture wore the most adorable overalls

The Multiverse You

It is 4:53 in the morning and the-multiverse-you is sleeping somewhere

(Perhaps held in the arms of her beloved)

…she does not know about the foster children, or the loss, the things you use to distract you

From the sound of being cracked open

a meal, a primitive marine creature–a crab, a lobster, a clam

The oral surgeon calls the missing piece of you by the kind of nickname you might use for a lovable but naughty child—that little stinker or cuss or rascal

Only, the-multiverse-you tells it as though it were a puzzling but mildly discomfiting dream

No mention, no hint even

Of global dishevelment and chaos on the planet where she sleeps,

untouched

As you fiddle with various words for comfort to mask the pain

In all the broken places.

Ah, the tattoo!

When I was dealing with the trauma of finding out that a little boy I had taken in as a toddler had grown up to become a terrible person I

Had three things

I decided to use as grief-points:

Get a nose ring

Shave my head

Get a tattoo.

This week I have had to face that sometimes “a tattoo” is a luxury item

In a pandemic

In the way grief

Can worm its way into the fabric of who a person is

I am losing something else

Like a tattoo, a marker of the grief

And I found what I would put on that tattoo–

Love is

Unmistakable

This Little Girl

I want to say so many things to

This man who does not really see

“This little girl”

But I know You

See her, see me, see them

All the little ones who

Need a God like You

Take my sins away, heal my wounds, stay until I am well, bring justice in your wings, never blame the victim, never stop searching for treasure

You

who were, who are, who always will be

Just You,

and “this little girl”

The Feast of Thorns

Long before our terrible story your birthday was already

the feast of Servites pruning winter roses. I cling to that now, all the other days this day could be:

Obstinate mountains lumber into obeisant seas

Lame men whole, blind men see

Dead men rise and shake off their shroudy bindings

impossible things all around ya

If only you will

See

Writer’s Block

I learned a long time ago that even a child can have dark spots, scorched places where

Love should have been

She writes to probe an old wound we share between us

A ghost who walks and spits and curses his proper Maker

What can I say?

What can I tell you that has not already transpired between us?

Only that God can tell a girl to go look

For her little sister (to play)

Then set the captives free

The Real Quiet Place

In the stories of Jesus’ public ministry there are accounts of people who have been healed of skin diseases which would have set them apart from their communities due to infection prevention measures codified by the Mosaic law.

In some of these stories, Jesus heals them and gives them permission to not tell people they were ever infected with these diseases.

I think this injunction was made (at least in part) to allow them to have a new life, unencumbered by prejudice.

When my family moved to a new place a few years after we found out that our adopted son had sexually assaulted some of our children, I realized that this was our chance to “start anew.”

We had pushed for legal consequences for Charles. We had a good counselor in the aftermath. We moved to protect the children. We were open with everyone in our previous community.

But we chose to continue

To tell our story.

The result has been fascinating and lonely.

There is a lot of prejudice about victims of sexual abuse and their families, maybe especially in churches.

We could be contagious?

Maybe

Or maybe it is our openness that scares them.

Either way, we call it “the island.” We live on an island

An island made of truth and pain and loneliness

With a single, unwavering resident

The one who heals us.

The one who knows this quiet place.

The one who tells us the truth will set us free.

My family is healthy, happy, and stable because we have never tried to hide

The story of our grief

But it can be quiet

On the island.