Tuesday, September 13, 2005

and what a time it was

a time it was
and what a time it was
a time of innocence
a time of confidences
long ago i had a photograph
preserve your memories
they're all that's left you

simon & garfunkle

i listened to this album ad infinitum as a teenager and these words always took me to a space of safety, a place of imagination, a place of beauty. these were the words that came to mind this morning as i pondered yesterday and all that happened.

yesterday will be a day marked in my memory of all that song pictures. it seems like a dream, like something other-worldly. so very different from my every day life. it was a gift, wrapped in a beautiful, big bow and handed to me in such a clear way that said, 'okay, it's time to own your story, right here, right now, this is for you.'

it was beautiful and redemptive and full of life and being present, emotion and hope. it was closure in it's perfect, redemptive sense. it was as if god had said 'i know you've been watching for redemption, i know you have longed to tell your story. i know you have been thwarted many times, today is the day of redemption.'

it started with a trip to my hairdresser. she is one of my favorite people in the world, she makes me seem like an total introvert, she is bubbly, effervescence and she hears me and pampers me. because of our trip to canada i had to cancel my regular 4 week appointment - it had been 2 months and my hair was out of shape and the change was dramatic. i felt confident and beautiful. i had on a new pair of jeans and a new top that god had left at goodwill just for me - they fit perfectly and followed 'the rules' and were very flattering. i was tempted to do the dress and heels thing, but i remembered that today was about me - just me - the inner part of me, and if i wasn't comfortable and confident it wouldn't be me on the screen, but some version of me i create to please someone else.

i went to the cafe where we planned to meet, they weren't there yet, and one of our students was working there. so we chatted and she went on about how pretty my hair looked, and i got a chance to tell her i was meeting my german film-makers who were coming from h-wood to meet with me (that was kind of fun). i got my double shot and turned around to find them there.

they were so euro i knew it had to be them, comfortably chic and obviously not from around our little 'county'. we sat at a table outside the cafe and talked about the locations they had scouted. they hadn't found anything they thought sounded like 'me' and asked if there was another place that was special to me. i told them of one of the old churches in the town that i had stumbled upon and asked to use their sanctuary for a day alone with god. it was a place of safety and healing. i knew if it worked out i would feel very comfortable there.

they asked to see it - and i prayed silently that they would allow us (total strangers) to use their facility to film me for the voice overs. they did and i still can't believe that feeling my heart had when she said 'action'. it made me smile deep inside as i walked up to the church doors knowing they were filming my 'backside' and being okay with that.

from there we went to the park to do the interview. a shady park bench along the river where i was given free rein to tell my story. this was being filmed by a wonderful german man in high definition, and it was amazing how they evaporated into the background and i felt as if i was truly talking with a friend. i felt so safe, so right, so free to tell my story.

i spoke of redemption and god not wasting anything if we allow it to be used. i spoke of the deep desire i had in joining the project to push myself out of my small controlled box and allow something i had written or created to be used, or abused by others. how i was prepared to let what i had contributed fly out into the world, but i was not prepared to have the control taken from me even before i participated. how that blind-sided me to have a person who knows nothing of me, other than my name and address so able to injure me with graphic images and hurtful words. how it raked up all of the mess i had just come through in recovering the memories of the rape and dealing with a life-time of self-loathing and ugly body images.

the film-maker asked me questions from off camera, knowing she would edit her voice out of the film and use my answers to build my story. it was such a joy to watch her creative process. to be so close to this artist as she built her vision around me. to glimpse the bigger picture that i was becoming a part of. it was why i originally wanted to participate in the journals project. to be a part of something grander and larger, and global - far removed from my dinky little town, and my dinky little life.

during a break she told me that she was the one who would be doing all of the editing and she had complete creative control. she respected my story and would not make this a painful process. she envisioned the extras features on the dvd being used to more fully flesh out our stories. the portion she puts into the film might be small, but the other parts might be used to tell 'my story' as a featurette at the end.

it was then i realized that this was larger than me. that god was going to use some small part of this to encourage others not to feel alone, not to feel like the only ones who are voiceless and wounded.

we ended with the images that were so hurtful. she had printed them off of the internet. i hadn't remembered how horrible they were. one of the pages he did was of his face - and it looked like one from a nightmare - close-up, blue and glowing - like he had photocopied himself. she asked me to speak of them. to talk of the emotions they stirred within me. it was the only time i cried (she teared up quite a few times while i was telling my story). then she asked me what i would have done if i had gotten the journal (it was either destroyed by the women who had it before me in the queue or 'lost in the mail' - i suspect the images injured her too and she destroyed the journal).

i told her of the power a book binding has to me - how holding that in my hand somehow makes it real. that is why i withdrew from the project, i didn't want to hold them in my hand. i said that i would have removed, shredded and burned them. she gave me permission to rip those pages up, and i threw them to the wind.

afterward i joked about how anti-litter i was and so we collected them and made a little pile and burned them right there in the park. sitting in the smoke of those pages it was clear, as i smelled the burnt paper - this is over. it no longer has any power over you.

the best part was right after i shredded the images 3 different types of butterflies flew by. i have used this metaphor since before this whole process started 5 years ago. i had read 'when the heart waits' by sue monk kidd and i was fed deeply by her image of the metamorphosis of the process of rebirth. seeing those butterflies honored that part of my story so beautifully, it was like ruach elohim had blown those winged friends my way to remind me that something here was being born anew.

it was four hours, intense hours, glorious hours that truly changed my life. i will remember them forever.

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