Something else to read. Not something light or enjoyable.
A Parable Re-Told?
She was a young woman, in the first few weeks of her first year at university, enjoying every minute of it. Part of the enjoyment was meeting new people and getting to know them. She had met a guy – a great guy – and after going out with him a couple of times, she invited him over to her rez-room, to have some coffee.
To get to know him better.
It was there, in her room, in what was supposed to be a safe place, that he forced her to have sex… raped her.
And afterwards he walked out the door.
Lying on her bed, curled on her side, she could feel nothing. Nothing except pain… and… and… filth. Everywhere he had touched her she felt unclean. Almost mechanically, she walked into the shower and scrubbed mercilessly at her skin, rubbing away at her body until it was bright red. Trying to get the feeling of his touch away from her – trying to get clean.
She moved as if she were on automatic. After getting out of the shower she found herself dressing and leaving the room where it had happened. She walked around and around the campus, not seeing the people on the street. Not seeing much of anything.
She turned and entered a building, sat down at the table, and stared at the wall. As she sat there, staring, the wall slowly came into focus. She began to see the words printed on a poster. “No means No.”
“No means No.” It was one of the posters up around campus, talking about date rape. At the bottom of the sign was the location of a place where she could find someone to talk to – a place where she could get help. Grasping for something normal, she went there, to find someone she could talk to.
She arrived to find the door being locked. “You want to help out,” said the person heading out, “Great! Look – I’ve got to make a report to the student’s union right now. I’ll be back in about an hour. I’ll see you then – ok?” Without waiting for a response, they took off down the hall. The young woman was left standing there, her stomach dropping to her feet. Numbness was beginning to fade. Her feeling was beginning to come back and the brush-off had been like a blow to her already aching body.
With the pain inside beginning to blind her, she wandered out of the building. It was October and there was a cold wind blowing. Although she was taking little in, at one point she saw a building with a tall spire. Realizing it was a church, she opened the door, stumbled in, and sat down in a pew. She had grown up in the church. She had been taught that the people there were always willing to help someone in pain. The minister saw her and sat down beside her, asking if she needed help. In painful whispers the story was told. After she was done there was silence. Then the pastor looked at her and said, “Dear child, you shouldn’t be going around telling stories like this. You’re going to get that young man in trouble. Now… tell me the truth. Were you dressed like that? Were you teasing him? No wonder he thought you were interested in sex!” She stared at that member of the clergy in disbelief, tears of pain and anger running down her face. Trying to grasp at what was left of her self-worth… at was left of her Self… she turned and ran out of the church.
No longer knowing where she was going, no longer caring where she was going, she continued to walk. She walked for miles, trying to get the cold of the fall air to dull the knife-sharp pain stabbing into her body – into her soul.
It began to rain.
She walked into a coffee shop and sat at a table, shaking with more than just the cold. As she tried to hold herself still, she began to feel like she was going to break apart. As the numbness continued to give way, she was tossed about by loss, by betrayal, by anger, by terror, by pain, by…
She sat slowly losing her Self.
Another woman was in that coffee shop. This was a woman who was used to the streets. Someone who most of us would walk by without a second glance, or, perhaps, a glance of distaste. Someone you might see sitting on the sidewalk downtown, asking for change. Someone you might see offering a “transaction”. Someone who learned to survive a life most of us can’t even begin to imagine.
She was also someone who knew the look on the young woman’s face.
She got up from her chair and moved to the young woman’s table. She sat, not saying a word, and offered her hand. In a torrent of words and tears the story again came pouring out. Again – silence. But this time, a head nodding… shared tears in the other’s eyes. She understood.
More than that – she knew.
She knew the shock… the pain… the fear… the anger.
She gently took the young woman’s hands in her own, lifting her up. She led her to a shelter where she knew the counsellors. She waiting, holding the young woman safe, until a counsellor was free. She stayed beside her until she knew that the healing would begin.
Then she quietly slipped out the door.
And Jesus looked at the disciples and said, “Now… which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the one who fell into the hands of the thief?”