Jack spent all morning fishing, and I trekked down the long curve of paved county road, stopping occasionally to study rock outcroppings and bluffs, and to listen to the birds who call these woods home--woodpeckers, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches. I stopped to look at the scarred walls of a quarry, and the big official looking sign posted at the gate that explains all of the important things that take place within its fenced boundary.
I personally believe there are plenty of these goodhearted people in the Driftless region of southwestern Wisconsin.
Places have names like Sidie Hollow, Harmony Hills, Manna Avenue, Timber Coulee. It appears that people who inhabit this area "live well in their places." Something hopeful to ponder.
And all of this, for me, was playing against the backdrop of the Kavanaugh confirmation process.
One week prior, I listened to and watched the complete testimonies of both Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Here's what I wanted to hear, but didn't hear in the Senate hearing:
I wanted to hear male Republican Senators ask Dr. Ford questions with the depth and sensitivity that male Democratic Senators used in their questioning of her.
I wanted Rachel Mitchell to finish the job she was called in to do.
I wanted Judge Kavanaugh to come out in clear and strong defense by answering questions clearly "yes" or "no".
I wrote Christine Blasey Ford a letter of thanks, as well as North Dakota's Senator Heidi Heitkamp. Sarah contributed to Dr. Ford's GoFundMe account.
Sarah asked whether I feel safe on my long walks. I said I do. . .but it does always occur to me that someone could stop, overpower me, bring harm to me when I am out in some isolated area. Only a couple of cars passed me that morning. One did stop, and a young woman rolled down her window to ask whether I was hunting for mushrooms.
And I've been reflecting on these words of Terry Tempest Williams, which caught my attention last week. Not only did these words catch my attention, on some level theyseemed to shock me into wakefulness:
"Democracy is full of strike moments, when injustice rubs against justice and a flame is carried by a man, a woman, a community, who lights a path of right action in the name of social change." (Terry Tempest Williams, Red)
I know that I want to be one of the women who carries a flame to light a path of right action in the name of social change. Right now I'm not sure what that looks like. For me, it seems that I am called to continue to listen, to support others who are coming awake, to encourage others, especially women, to recognize their own inner wisdom, and speak their truth, whether or not I agree. With all of this, I continue to be in process, It seems important to be willing to stay in it, even when it's uncomfortable. Even when it breaks my heart.
At last, Pope Francis has approved investigation into Vatican archives on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. A sign of hope, which may prove as dubious as a quick FBI investigation. Some things coming out of the Church continue to be discouraging (lacking courage)--for example, the current meeting of Bishops for the youth synod consists of 250 priests, bishops, cardinals, and some younger laypersons. Though some of the laypersons are women, only the men are allowed to vote.
Regarding ongoing clergy sex abuse, even within our own Diocese through a recent press release, the language continues to center around "decades old" allegations. This language sounds self protective and minimizes the experience of victims. Two things we must recognize: Statistically, victims of child sexual abuse wait thirty years to report the event. And, experientially, for the victim, there is no such thing as "decades old."
Though it's true that since 2002 the Catholic Church has taken concrete steps to keep this tragedy from happening, (any allegation is to be taken seriously and reported immediately to outside authorities; the accused is removed from their position until allegations are either cleared or confirmed) I still feel skeptical when I hear that the problem has all but disappeared. I can see why good people of faith want to believe it. But it's in the very nature of abuse that it finds a way to hide, particularly if it is sexual in nature.
There is at least one courageous Bishop among us, Bishop Conley, who in his column on August 17th, entitled "A Call for Vigilance and Action," stated, What I am learning is that even when there may not be clear and obvious signs of sexual abuse and physical assault, there can still be behavior that can be rightly seen as abuse, boundary violations, warning signs, and conduct that requires intervention. If we investigate these warning signs with appropriate vigor, we could learn there is a misunderstanding, but we could also learn there was serious abuse that we did not know about.
When I first read that, I thought, Every woman knows this. (Conley is the Bishop of the Lincoln, Nebraska, Diocese) You can read the column here.
On Sunday morning, I looked out and noticed one small puff of cloud, rising from the valley floor. It spoke to me of hope; of not giving up; of doing my small part; of doing all I can with great love; of being content in my small role.