The parable of the retold

I remember you

I remember when you ran into the waiting room with your sister

I remember all the warnings and admonitions I got from Martha-the-caseworker and your recently relieved first foster mom

And your blue-as-the-sea implacable gaze across a very misguided table

I remember your speech therapist and her fairy godmother-like delight in seeing you make eye contact and in watching your self-inflicted facial wounds

Heal and not return

Storms all over the place

Storms in you swirled all around us, even when I tried to contain them.

The Angry Biddy

She flaps her (flightless) wings and flutters about

Because surely birds can’t cry and this world is full of sorrow

She is almost human, fully sentient with the wary eyes of someone who knows what it is to not have opposable thumbs

So I tell her, do your graceless angry dance and I will translate for you

About how eternal we are in this brutal place

Where the stars tell us things in the darkness

About hope

Dammed hope

Which will one day soon

Break free

But I am not a vegetarian!

We have all been in the grips of a winter cold. This morning one of my younger kids slept-talked a single line–but I am not a vegetarian!!!

I don’t know the context, but the sentence itself was lovely in its exposition.

Often our lives are defined by others based on labels. The vegetarian label seems pretty harmless unless he was dream-offered a nut-apple-squash loaf or was inhabiting some sort of carnivore-topia.

In the world we are awake in we navigate through real perils when we reveal who we really are. Revealing we are a certain shade of skin or religion or sexual identification can cause people to see us differently–for good or ill.

Revealing our status as crime victims can do the same. I might not have thought so years ago, before I knew or started telling our family story, but now that I have, I can attest: it does.

Years ago I remember talking to my children’s counselor and she used the term “damaged good.” As in, “you wouldn’t want people to see your kids as damaged goods.”

Terrible to think she was right. We absolutely could have buried the story of what happened to us. We did not, and we are a healthy, happy, fairly isolated group of people now. Telling the story has categorized us as “high-risk” and the syndrome of isolation and silence has been almost categorical.

A small, small, lovely group of people have stuck around, bless them.

I used to believe that sexual assault victims should absolutely tell someone. I still believe that, but I would tell them not to expect much from those you tell.

I would tell them keep talking until you are safe.

I would tell them you are not alone.

Moving Mountains

I have a hunch that when we get to Heaven we will realize that no matter how big, how wild, how impossible our prayers have been, we could have prayed for more.

Let me be clear: God does not answer prayers for evil. He does not reward our sin, cowardice, or avarice. He rewards the just, but if we pray along the lines of love, mountains do move.

Have you ever seen a mountain move? Have ever seen it lumber to the sea and toss itself in?

I have not. And as with these oh-so-solid mountains, many of the big-ticket items I have prayed for have been stolidly immobile for years.

Impossible things.

But I do worship the God of impossible things. His wry sense of humor, His unflagging love, His ridiculous, tenacious prophets, and His remarkable creation all suggest

Moving mountains ain’t no thing

For Him.

Stan Who Had Two Dads

Dearest Boy,

After I read about you I wrote a bunch of stuff. Then I walked, prayed, and cried. Some people won’t tell your story out of fear; others only out of fear.

But what I am afraid of is this–that no one will be there to heal the damage, that no one will tell you

none of this is your fault, and little of it needs to define you.

You deserve to survive this. You deserve birthday parties and pony rides, rock climbing and ice cream. You deserve to sit at a table with people who see you, know your story, and say I love you, Stan. You are a great kid..

Just because you were raised by wolves…doesn’t mean you are one.

No, dear, Lamb, you are a boy. Loved by a real Dad…the only one who can heal us all from the monsters, smiling in the picture: so broken.

If someone tells you they have been abused

Worth repeating.

Worth putting on your refrigerator:

When I first found out that my adopted son had sexually abused children I was in shock. The hours and days that followed were filled with anger, pain, and terrible questions.

They were also filled with calls to the state to report him and forensic interviews.

I understood that I had to revise my view of my son–he was capable of unspeakable harm.

How do we handle stories of unspeakable harm? Not well. We handle them with avoidance, ostracism, excuses, and silence. We blame the victims.

Don’t. Don’t do these things to a crime victim. Do this instead:

Be there and listen. Victims of abuse are all around you. Most will not share their stories because they know if they do they will be viewed as contagious.

Abuse is not sui generis contagious. Ignorance is. Refrain from perpetuating any stereotypes about the abused or their families. Remember, they are the victims.

Explaining to a child how and why an older person would take their innocence is a heartbreaking conversation, but it starts with repair–

What I told my kids was this–sex is like driving a car, good but challenging and not for kids.

Kids should not have to deal with sex–either in advertising, media, a bikini culture, pornography, or abuse.

It is our job to protect them, and we can’t do it by keeping our heads in the sand.

And if they have been hurt by sexual exploitation it is our job to be there to heal what has been broken–the human heart.

The Cypher

A few of us may remember a night spent with dear, dear friends camping in the woods. Deep, off-site camping.


There were four of us. Two were afraid of bears. A couple afraid of humans.

In the end two slept. And two did not. The sleepers were candid–

we slept because we knew you were awake.

Guarding us, so to speak.
Vigilant and awake
Maybe a little paranoid, even.
Tired in the morning.

Some will stay awake
So that the little ones can be