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Prayer for Persimmons and Stories

The first story came a few months ago from a close friend. She and I were having dinner together, and as it often happens, our conversation ranged around a number of topics—what we’d been reading, politics, where we’d been and who we’d seen, our families. The Me Too movement was just springing up, and our talk turned to that. Suddenly my friend was telling me about her experience of being raped by a blind date in college fifty-odd years ago. I had not seen that coming. I did not know what to say, so I said very little. The conversation moved on, but I was haunted by her story, which she had just told for the first time.

As I thought about it after we parted, I was appalled by my response to her—which amounted to little more than stunned silence. I cannot imagine how that dead space in our conversation must have felt to her. I worried all night, and as soon as I could the next day, I went to her. I am so sorry, I said. I didn’t know what to say, and so I said nothing. Please forgive my silence. I still don’t know what to say except this: I heard you. I am sorry you had to endure that experience—and carry it alone all this time. But I heard you. Thank you for trusting me with your story. My heart goes out to that young woman of fifty years ago who bore the burden. I admire your courage, and I deeply respect the woman you have become. I am grateful for your friendship.

When I first sat down to write this blog, I thought I would write about persimmons. Two tall common persimmon trees, Diospyros virginiana, flourish on the green across the street from my house. Each is now so loaded with plum-sized fruit the trees look as though they have been decorated with hundreds of orange ornaments. What treasures! But yesterday I heard two more Me Too stories from women I know. One who is my age spoke her story (also for the first time) into a group. The other, several decades younger, told me in a chance encounter. Again the stories seemed to come out of the blue—except that no such story comes from out of the blue, does it? In our current national trauma, how many wounds are being re-opened? How many women, and men too, are experiencing flashbacks? Against the backdrop of today’s news, how could these stories NOT be surfacing? And how could I not pay attention to them?

Thankfully, yesterday I was better prepared. I could say to each woman, I hear you. I am so sorry you had to endure what you endured. But I hear you. Thank you for trusting me with your story. I love and respect the brave and beautiful woman that you are.

Perhaps next October I will write about persimmons and other lovely gifts of October. This year, however, my three friends and their stories—and indeed, the stories of many—are gifts that have led me in a different direction. Lumunos has long valued the power of the story—my story, our story, God’s story. Lumunos has taught me that both speaking one’s own truth and listening to the truth of another can be holy acts.

I honor those who are not ready to tell their stories. In accordance with their own inner guide, they will decide if and when the time is right for them. Meanwhile, I am deeply grateful for both the call to speak truth and the call to listen deeply. Through the sharing of our stories, may the paths of our daughters and granddaughters and indeed, all people all over the earth, be made more open, just, and safe.

Angier Brock

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