It was a crisp spring morning in May, two years ago.
I was out on my morning run, the sun having barely crossed the horizon line.
The world is so quiet and peaceful right before daybreak…
I came around the corner near Dunks and noticed a man standing in the rubble that was once my church.
I stopped to watch him.
He looked up to the sky and I could tell he was in prayer. He dropped to his knees and it was evident from the rise and fall of his shoulders that he was weeping. It was then that I understood he was one of them. One of the thousands (millions?) of children sexually assaulted by their priest.
If you have not yet seen the movie Spotlight, please make the time to.
It is important.
It is important that we stop sheltering the Catholic Church, who continue to harbor and celebrate sexual predators.
I watched him stand up and wipe his eyes. He kicked the pile of bricks with ferocity.
He spit on them, shook his head and walked back into the shadows.
Watching this broke my heart wide open.
I walked back home slowly, weeping. I was never violated in this particular building but I harbor my own wounds. Twenty-six years later, my body is still field of landmines. In spite of all the healing work and forgiveness, I am still so easily triggered.
And reader, last week I was triggered.
The landmine in the pit of my belly exploded, and it has ignited a fire.
Last week, my town released recommendations for guidelines for cannabis sales.
Within those guidelines is a restriction that would require a 500 foot buffer zone from a church.
I’m not going to elaborate on the sheer archaic, ludicrous, enabling, monstrous, financially befuddling logic of this recommendation. That would be fruitless.
I have learned that when one of these landmines goes off, it is my job to work through that rage and let the fire burn until I am refined to a place of forgiveness and productivity. The phoenix rose from the ashes and came to me in a dream last night…
The phoenix landed in the parking lot of my former church, where I was greeted by Saint Francis and his menagerie of animals. He walked me up the path, then lead me through an archway of roses…
There were small painted rocks hidden among the flowers, with the names, images, quotes, prayers of hope, words of forgiveness.
In the back corner was a meditation pond, surrounded by white flowers. As the moon rose in the sky, we sat in stillness and watched the light reflect off the water, illuminating the entire space.
And then he showed me all the people…women, men, children, digging their hands into this ground, transforming a space so steeped in shame and pain into one of grace and beauty.
And I felt healed.
And I asked him, “how do I make this happen? Show me the way.”
He smiled and answered “you already know the way. You just need to be brave enough to begin.”
When I woke up this morning, I saw with clarity that path before me.
It is my vision to transform the space that was once the grounds of Saint Francis, into a sanctuary. A garden of forgiveness and healing.
In the event that this space is unavailable, there are plenty of broken wounded plots of land in our fair metropolis that will serve the same purpose, but I kinda have my heart set on that lot.
Recently my friend Tiffany posted this image
And it triggered something inside me.
I want to build an army.
An army of people committed to transform their community.
I want to plant gardens full of food and medicine. I want to clean the garbage out of vacant lots and fill them instead with flowers.
Hundreds of thousands of flowers.
Because I want to combat the hate and suffering that is happening on our planet with beauty. I want to plant seeds of hope in every pocket of sadness. I want community spaces that people will drive hundreds of miles to walk through because they are so enchanting, healing and magical.
Because I have hated long enough. I have carried this shame and rage and pain and suffering for long enough. I lay down these weapons of war and instead I claim my pitchfork.
Because that man who was weeping in my church rubble needs a place to find peace and forgiveness. Because the words “me too” rippled across this land like a battle cry that needs to be honored.
I’m ready to break ground.