through the image of a woman crucified on the cross
I understand at last.
For over half my life I have been ashamed of the scars I bear.
These scars tell an ugly story, a common story,
about a girl who is the victim of sexual abuse.
In the warmth, peace, and sunlight of your presence
I was able to uncurl the tightly clenched fists.
For the first time I felt your suffering presence
with me in that event.
I have know you as a vulnerable baby,
as a brother, and as a father.
Now I know you as a woman.
You were there with me
as the violated girl caught in helpless suffering.
The chains of fear no longer bind my heart and body.
A slow fire of compassion and forgiveness is kindled.
My tears fall now for man as well as woman.
You were not ashamed of your wounds.
You showed them to Thomas
as marks of your ordeal and death.
I will no longer hide these wounds of mine.
I will bear them gracefully.
They will tell a resurrection story.
Anonymous, inspired by the figure of a woman, arms out-stretched as if crucified, hung below the cross in a chapel in Toronto, Canada