Comforting Words: 02/2005

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Pregnant and at Risk

It was with horror I watched a CNN anchor quite calmly, as one could expect, read the shocking statistics that homicide was the common cause of death among pregnant women in the United States.

Why are husbands, lovers and others killing the pregnant women in their lives? As the news report did not give any details, I decided to check for more information. While doing so my dear friend and guide, Spirit, turned up and asked me, “Why does this bother you so much?”

See what I found out about being “Pregnant and at Risk” and labour with me through the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart to my personal truths in this disturbing story.


From Judeo-Christianity (NRSV):
Job 3: 16 – 17

“ . . . Why was I not buried like a stillborn child, like an infant that never sees the light? There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest.”


It is hard to imagine what one could say to comfort the family in grief over the death of their pregnant daughter, sister or niece, who was murdered by the one who they thought loved her most. To them, this pregnancy seemed to be the happiest time of her life and both she and her partner were eagerly anticipating the birth of their child. At least, that is how they saw the couple.

For those who planned and wanted it, pregnancy can be one of the most joy-filled times of a woman’s life. Morning-sickness, bloating and the general discomfort of walking, sitting and sometimes even breathing can cause a woman to wonder “where is the joy?” However, knowing that new life has emerged and daily grows within you can make everything else seem petty, elevating you to the proverbial cloud nine.

This joy and sense of expectancy is not shared however by many of the partners of pregnant women. Statistics coming out of the U.S. show that thirty one percent of the injury-related deaths among pregnant women were acts of murder.

The reports also had another little ‘gem’ – women under 20 years of age and women of African descent are especially vulnerable and the homicide rate among African-American women is three times more than among Caucasian women. What is even more frightening is that the authorities feel that pregnancy-related deaths are under-reported.

Do not be fooled into thinking that violence against pregnant women is isolated to the United States – the land of anything goes. Here in Canada, a 1993 Statistics Canada report states that twenty-one percent of the women participating in a sexual assault survey were victims of violence during pregnancy. Defining “Woman Abuse” and what causes it, the Public Health Agency of Canada states that the risk of abuse is heightened for women who are “young (18-24), elderly (65 or older), disabled or Aboriginal. The risk is also increased when a woman was victimized in childhood or exposed to violence against her mother. Pregnancy is also a risk factor for being abused.”

Internationally, pregnant women are no safer. While the specific statistics is hard to find, one can imagine the risk that pregnant women are at in places such as the United Kingdom, where a 2004 Amnesty International report states that about two women per week are killed by their partners.

One is hardly surprised that statistics on pregnant women is not available in this world, where in 2003 at least fifty-four countries have discriminatory laws against women and where seventy-nine countries have no (or unknown) legislation against domestic violence. Heaven only knows what happens to women with unwanted pregnancies when marital rape is recognized specifically as a crime in only fifty-one countries.

In our world, according to the Amnesty report, “at least 60 million girls who would otherwise be expected to be alive are ‘missing’ from various populations as a result of sex-selective abortions or inadequate care as they are seen less important than boys.”

The 'leaders' of many African churches are right now outraged against marriages between two people who are in committed relationships but are of the same-sex. They are threatening to withdraw from their international church community in protest against this 'immorality'. My question is simple - where is the similar concern and expression of outrage for the African women who are 175 times more likely to die in childbirth and pregnancy than Westerners?

In Costa Rica, seven point five percent of battered women reported that abuse caused their miscarriages. Moving East, the question becomes: "How many women die in India as the three million female fetuses are being aborted each year?"

As I read the information from MSNBC, the Center for Disease Control, Public Health Canada, from Amnesty and other reports, my mind went back to my own pregnancies, searching to find if there was any truth about this vulnerability in my own experience. Truth is, I was looking whether death ever came knocking on my doors during any of my pregnancies – and I was appalled at what I remembered.

I can recall my first pregnancy and how gentle and protective I was of the child growing in my belly. Though it was an unplanned pregnancy, there was a sense of special-ness that I was able to conceive and be completely responsible for the growth of the little one that I carried. Never in my life had I taken so much care about the food I ate and the pace at which I worked or did anything. As my belly swelled and my feet and face bloated, there was an inner and outer glow about me, one which people saw and commented on. “Pregnancy suit you,” they would say.

My then husband was just as anxious and protective as I was. He was gentle and generally helpful around our little apartment. In the 1980s Ukraine, ultrasound tests were not available at the time to lowly people like us. You had to have connections with the local politburo. We however decided that I was carrying a boy and so we gave him a ridiculous nickname - Ragnam, because of the amount of food I was packing away.

It was a good time for us and my husband’s kindness and thoughtfulness helped to reassure me in those moments when the morning sickness or feeling like a whale got the better of me. Sadly however, we lost our first child. Unbeknownst to me at the time, we lost much more than that.

Less than two years later, we would be pregnant again but only one of us would be happy about it. After many a tear-filled nights, pleading with him to fall in love with this second chance we were given, I knew my husband did not want this child - at least not as much as I did.

In the back of my mind I knoew I was to be on my own when the new baby arrived. There were moments though when hope surged and the possibility that things would get back to ‘normal’ seemed real. Despite my vainest hope however, there were far more terrifying moments when it was not certain whether there would be a child to celebrate or if I would be alive to see its first birthday.

The memories of my first pregnancy and my stillborn son though hidden have remained with me. However, I tend to focus more on my soon to be eighteen year old daughter’s face. This morning, as she hugged me and I looked into her eyes, I saw the confident and elegant woman she is becoming.

As I close my own eyes and remember those days when death in fact knocked on my door but destiny answered in my stead, I prayed for those mothers who lost their lives and the children they carried.

Laci Peterson’s mother is reported to have asked her daughter’s murderer, Scot Peterson, why did he not think of divorcing instead of killing her, thus sparing her and her unborn son’s lives. This is a valid question, one which the world awaits his and the response of the millions of men around the world who today will raise their hands against a wife, a lover and mother of their unborn children.


You chose, O loving God,
to enter this world
quietly, humbly, and as an outcast.
Hear our prayers
on behalf of all who are abused:

For children,
who suffer at the hands
of parents whom they trust and love;
for spouses,
beaten and destroyed
by the very one
who promised to love
and to cherish them forever;
for all people
ignored, hated and cheated.
by the very neighbor
who could be the closest one
to offer your love.

Hear the cry of the oppressed.
Let the fire of your Spirit fill their hearts
with the power of vision, and hope.
Grant to them empowerment to act,
that they may not be passive victims
of violence and hatred.
Fulfill for them the promises you have made,
that their lives may be transformed
and their oppression ended.

Turn the hearts of the oppressor unto you
that their living may be changed
by your forgiving love;
and their abusive actions
and oppressive ways brought to an end.


(Taken from and was written by Vienna Cobb Anderson)

Blessings, until next week.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Am I the Question?

Amidst the jokes, cake eating and general joviality of marking the fortieth year of my birth, below the surface of my smiles a question kept popping up in my head – begging my attention. Everyone reassured me that these will be the best years of my life and I believed them as these were people who, as the saying goes, “been there, done that.” Why then was this question nagging me?

Frankly, nothing has changed in my life physically since that fateful day of February 15 when I turned forty. Nevertheless, it feels as though everything has changed. The changes had to do with the question that has been like a mite, quietly but intently eating away at my hesitancy to respond.

If ever there was a “preacher man” who reached me then I would have to admit that he was an aging, white man. His name is John Shelby Spong. I met him some years ago in Jamaica. We spoke one-on-one for about ten minutes and that conversation, combined with his books and his lectures that I had attended, had such a profound affect on me. However, it is the ten-minute conversation that I will always remember and cherish.

Whether “Jack” Spong, retired Episcopalian Bishop, originated this, this ‘thing’ he unknowingly implanted in my heart, I do not know nor do I care. However, the ‘thing’ that nagged me all week had everything to do with what he said to me about my relationship(s) in and with the world. During our conversation, which I am sure he does not remember, he asked me, and I paraphrase – to think for a moment that I am the question that life is posing?

I invite you to join me and ask yourself – “Am I the question?” Walk with me through the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart and see if we are the questions - how then shall we live?


From Sikhism:
Adi Granth, Japuji 28, M.1, p.6

“Let all mankind be thy sect.”

From Judeo-Christianity (NRSV):
Isaiah 56:7

“ . . . For my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

From African Traditional Religions:
Buji Proverb (Nigeria):

“The pebbles are the strength of the wall.”

(Excerpt from Sikhism and African Traditional Religions taken from World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology (St. Paul: Paragon House, 1995) 186 - 189


“Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Everything.”

Ernest Gaines, novelist and author of The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, is credited with this quotation. This enterprise becomes extremely challenging when turned upside-down and you become the question. Yes, you are the question. You, reading this article, are not the seeker of answers but the question that life is posing to the world.

Looking back, the first time this was suggested to me it went over my head, something which happened quite often when I was ‘young’ and awestruck by someone who I had given “star” status in my world.

It was probably years later after meeting John Shelby Spong and reading yet again his book Living in Sin: A Bishop Rethinks Human Sexuality, as I was going through my journals (something that I highly recommend), checking where I had been emotionally and what dreams were yet to come true, that I came across the entry about the conversation and the suggestion.

“You are the question that life is posing to the world.”

“What?” I thought. “I don’t get this,” I said and continued reading about what I would do when I win the lottery. The suggestion, however, obviously did not leave my consciousness. For some reason, I would not allow it to leave. I would therefore tuck it away and it complied, remaining hidden, waiting for the right moment to resurface. When it did, I would look at it again, considered it much as how one does a treasured dress or pants suit that is too small but you try it on anyway hoping by some miracle it would fit.

“You are the question.”

More time passed, more life-choices made and still this thought remained under lock and key, never really deliberated nor seriously considered. Certainly, life happens and you “go with the flow” and if you are like me, you ask the question “what is the purpose of this life, relationship, job, family member or crisis?”

You pray for help and often enough you feel that your prayers are answered and when they are not, at least not in the way you would have liked, you do your own thing. God must have been too busy or simply does not understand your particular problem!

Still more time went by and the suggestion remained, patiently waiting for me to give it my “full hundred” – as we Jamaicans love to say. I gave it some thought but not the deep introspection that it required until one day I found myself unable to avoid the question – “Are you the question?”

The trouble is, this question is just the tip of the iceberg. Say your response is “No, I am not the question,” you will then be confronted with “What are you then to the world, what is your purpose?” That starts a new hockey game (I live in Canada, people).

Answer, “Yes, I am the question to the world,” and I ‘warn’ you will be entering uncharted territory – one which is as frightening as it is exciting. Once you make such a response then you will need to answer this – “What is the question you are posing to the world?”

How you answer this question will depend largely on how you see the world. To borrow the favourite saying of a popular Jamaican talk show host, if you see the world as made up of “tribes fighting for scarce benefits,” the question you may be posing to the world is: “How much can I grab for me and mine?”

If you see the world as a beautiful place, where people of different races, gender, religious beliefs, culture and sexual orientation can live a full and meaningful life, sharing equitably the natural resources the Creator has provided for all, you will pose a very different question.

We are all “pebbles” in this world, and anyone who has spent the lengtho f time that I have walking on the shores of the ocean will know that they come in different shapes, sizes, colours and texture (and very much include the animal kingdom).

If the ‘wall’ of the world is to be strong, then all its pebbles are important. Each human being must be considered equal, despite and in spite of racial, cultural or religious differences, whether they are man or woman, gay, straight or bisexual, white, yellow or black.

If you see the world as a beautiful place, where animals and other creations are an integral and valuable part, other than food to eat or resources to profit from, then the question that you are will be is: “How am I being in, caring for, sharing and building this world?”

With the deep desire to be this second question, to live in true community, seeing all humankind as my sect and to build a house of prayer for all, I have decided to live the message that Bishop Spong teaches: “Live fully, love wastefully, be all that I am capable of being.”

What is your question to the world?


Give us enough this day dear Divine. Enough love, enough food and enough people to share both with.

Give us enough troubles and enough joy, so that we will remember to count our blessings.

Give us enough shelter, enough clothing, and enough money so that we will be ready for the journey.

Give us enough of your Presence dear Divine, so we will never forget that in you we live, move and have our being.

Blessings, until next week.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The Power of Forty

In her book, If Not Now, When? Stephanie Marston seemingly wants to reassure readers, who like me are on the brink of the big four-oh, that they have a few more years to go before mid-life crisis set in. She writes that it happens somewhere between forty and forty-five, when your world is shaken, rocked and you are thrown into that dirty place called "crisis."

Marston however consoles with her reminder that being in “crisis” is not as negative as the western culture would have us believe. The word crisis has its roots in the Greek word krinein, or krisis meaning “a separating” or “a turning point.” She says that this implies that being in mid-life crisis is really about “letting go of the old ways of being, a time when we can ask ourselves what we need to leave behind and what we can reclaim.” Based on her experience, Marston suggests that this period can be very overwhelming but it can also “lead to increased power and a stronger sense of self.”

This week I will celebrate my fortieth birthday and enter the zone where and when “mid-life crisis” becomes a real possibility. I invite you to join me on this journey and recall or anticipate your own Power of 40 , increase your power and sense of self with the help of these Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart.


From Confucianism:

Analects 2.4

“At fifteen I set my heart upon learning. At thirty, I had planted my feet upon firm ground. At forty, I no longer suffered from perplexities. At fifty, I knew what were the biddings of Heaven. At sixty, I heard them with a docile ear. At seventy, I could follow the dictates of my own heart, for what I desired no longer overstepped the boundaries of right.”

From Buddhism:

Dhammapada 260-61:

“He is not thereby an elder merely because his head is gray. Ripe is he in age; “old in vain” is he called. In whom are truth, virtue, harmlessness, restraint, and self-control, that wise man who is purged of impurities is, indeed, called elder.”

(Excerpt from Confucianism and Buddhism taken from World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology (St. Paul: Paragon House, 1995) 588 - 589


As you turn on the television or flip the through your favourite magazines, you are bombarded with reminders that you are inadequate.

The democratic thing about this assault however is that you get to choose where your inadequacy lies. There are no shortages of inadequacies and the more you have and the more your are willing to acknowledge, the better it is – for the manufacturers, of course.

As much as I hate to make the following statement – I will:
The cosmetic, clothing and pharmaceutical manufacturers pay me a backhand compliment in their advertising that I am thankful for. It releases me from a fair amount of pressure that you – my Caucasian sisters have to handle or dodge. Thankfully, where I reside in Western Canada and once I stick to the local channels and magazines, much of that pressure is off me.

This was not always the case however, where I could “escape” images that informed me of my inadequacies. Living as I did for the first seventeen years of my life on a small Caribbean island, there were two dominant sets of images about getting old. “Old” women were the matriarchs of the society and in my case when I looked at my mother the only thing I could see were her struggles, workload and general hardship. (In Jamaica, we actually call women of a certain age “old women” – in some instances as an endearment, but quite often with disdain.)

There was another set of “old” women – the middle or upper class women, who lived lives so far removed from my reality that it was even harder for me to imagine my aging gracefully. The thought of getting to forty scared the daylights out of me as teenager. Actually, after a while any number beyond twenty was not something I thought about without dread.

My dread was compounded with the arrival of satellite television and the American culture, which to this day threatens the local identity. A new set of images entered my screen and I started to learn how inadequate I was as a black, thick lipped and nappy hair woman in the eyes of the wider world.

Certainly, we knew the history of slavery and how our island home was re-populated with our African grandparents. I for one was well aware of the racial and political struggles in the United States and in South Africa growing up as I did in a home with a politically active mother.

None of this however fully prepared me for my first day in the “world” outside of my paradise, where people of African descent are the majority. Nothing that I had learnt in text books, in the political rhetoric of 1970’s Jamaica or the womanist-words of my role model, Beverley Anderson-Manley, former first lady of Jamaica, prepared me for the two-punch blow of racism and sexism.

Who could prepare you for the questions whether your tail was removed and whether your skin colour would not come off with a good scouring? When you add these insults to the constant images of what a ‘real woman’ looks like – white, slim, blonde and perpetually young, you can image how much I dreaded getting old.

Though I would return to my paradise, well educated and full of hope, underneath the feeling of inadequacy remained, refusing to leave. I am sure that all my sisters, of whatever race or nationality has this feeling as you come to learn, through television, magazines, books and now the internet, that that the image you see in the mirror is not that of a “real woman.”

Unlearning this lesson is hard and often comes after much psychological scarring, pain and hurt. Now on the brink of forty, I can confess that my krinein came in a series and my hair was “grey” long before I started to aging. My turning point came when the pain was too great to bear, the confusion so deep and life was spiraling into meaninglessness. Seemingly, at the bottom of the pit, someone reminded me to breathe.

With that first breath, I started the process, one, which I am sure, will continue for the rest of my life. It is hard work which is tempting to give up, especially as the advertising campaigns, subtle though they may be, continues to reinforce this superficial idea of perfect woman.

Even among the African-American community, the advertisting messages have now been crafted to image a darker version of the perfect white woman. She is what we Jamaicans call a "browning" - of a lighter hue, still slim, with long (in some case artifical) hair. The multicultural and diverse Canada is no different - at least in the West where I live. The few images that you do see of African-Canadians fit this new stereo-type.

These messages are especially brutal to us aging women of any race - in that they are constant. Aging women bear the brunt of their assault with our sagging skins, dropping buttocks, cellulite legs, grey hairs growing in embarrassing places and, worst of all, we have socks where breasts once were.

Seemingly ensconced in Western Canada with the possibility to ‘hide’ from U.S. media ads by watching local television, one might think that life is perfect. Think again. Here, it is double jeopardy. I am invisibile on two counts: as an African-Canadian and as an aging woman.

Forty has new meaning to me these days. As Confucian text said at forty "I no longer suffer perplexities." I have come to learn that whoever, wherever, however old or young and whatever the colour of our skins, as women we must constantly reclaim our power.

Who I am and who you are should never be determined by anyone but the person you see in the mirror. As we battle (and it is a battle) to remain grounded in the truth that life was meant to include sagging breasts and grey hair in places you would rather them not be – we give birth to our authentic selves.

On the eve of becoming forty, daily I reclaim the fullness of my power – as woman of African descent, mother, lover, friend, human, and God’s child – nappy hair, sagging breasts and all!

P.S. While it is not my intention to advertise any book or author, I would really recommend reading Stephanie Marston’s book, If Not Now, When: Reclaiming Ourselves at Midlife.


(This week, Words from the heart is a poem, The Clearing, by Morgan Farley, as printed in If Not Now, When? pages 217 - 218)

I am clearing a space –
here, where the trees stand back.
I am making a circle so open
the moon will fall in love
and stroke these grasses with her silver.

I am setting stones in the four directions,
stones that have called my name
from mountaintop and riverbeds, canyons and mesas.
Here I will stand with my hands empty,
mind gaping under the moon.

I know there is another way to live.
When I find it, the angels
will cry out in rapture,
each cell of my body
will be a rose, a star.

If something seized my life tonight,
if a sudden wind swept through me,
changing everything,
I would not resist.
I am ready for whatever comes

But I think it will be
something small, an animal
padding out from the shadows,
or a word spoken so softly
I hear it inside.

It is dark out here, and silent.
The moon is stone.
I am alone with my longing.
Nothing is happening
but the next breath, and the next. . . .

Blessings, until next week.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Daughters of Rahab

A dear friend of mine gave me a small book some time ago. He said he wanted me to have this book after listening to some of my thoughts about ministry and the vision that I hold for myself in ministry. Though there are differences between the author’s context and mine, this 100-page book had a profound effect on me, as the author, Henri J. M. Nouwen, seemed to be speaking directly to me.

A major point in my spiritual growth came, surprisingly enough, with the words of a television evangelist who said, “Let your mess be your message!” As in the case of Nouwen, it felt as if she, Joyce Meyers, was also speaking directly to me. The commonality between these two very different people in their ministries is that they have “bumped into life” a few times and instead of shriveling up and dying, they made their mess into messages and have become Wounded Healers.

This week, I met another Wounded Healer. Her name eludes me now but her message, her strength and her courage will never leave my mind. She is a 21st century Daughter of Rahab and I invite you to share some of the insight from her story, her pain and the reality that many women (and children) across the world are living. Read the Words from Scripture, Words of Comfort and Words from the Heart and then lend a hand, a dollar (or more) and a prayer to these your sisters.


From Judeo-Christianity:

James 2:25

“Was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road?”

Genesis 34: 31

“But they said, ‘Should our sister be treated like a whore?’”

From Siecho-no-le:

Nectarean Shower of Holy Doctrines:

“When God appears, there is goodness, there is justice, there is benevolence, harmony comes of itself, all creatures find their places, and there is no conflict, no preying on each other, no disease, no suffering, no poverty.”

(Excerpt from Siecho-no-le taken from World Scripture: A Comparative Anthology (St. Paul: Paragon House, 1995) 792


Again, in the small prints of the Edmonton Journal this week, I came across a most astounding story. Headlined “German law pushes unemployed women into legalized sex trade,” the story came not more than a week after I had written about the objectification of women and the trafficking of women and children.

Written by a reporter for “The Sunday Telegraph” the story is material for both anger and pain. As a woman, it is extremely painful to read confirmation that people in high places, educated people and worse yet people in governments are still, to this day, oblivious to the effects of macro-economic policies on women. The feminization of poverty is a ‘growing business’ in not only so-called developing countries but, as this story shows, in the developed, industrialized nations such as Germany.

Still reeling from the impact of the story, I continued preparations for an upcoming ‘Lunchtime Talk’ at my college. Fate would have it that the committee that I so happen to chair had months ago planned to host the Executive Director of a local organization at our consciousness-raising event for future leaders of ministries and other interested persons.

Over the years, I have come to realize that fate never travels alone and this day was to be no different. Synchronicity came along and brought J. with her (yes, I remembered the name, but as I do not have permission to publicize her name, I will only use her first initial). So on this rather pleasant wintry day in Alberta, theological students gathered to hear from Kate Quinn, Executive Director of The Prostitution Awareness and Action Foundation of Edmonton (PAFFE). Although I had been told by Kate that she would try to bring someone with more direct experience there was no confirmation of that, so none of us were prepared for the myth-shattering personality named J.

Many of us have the notion that women in prostitution are in the business as a career choice. At the other end of the pole are those who will argue that prostitution is not only humanity’s oldest profession but also a ‘job’ and therefore should be respected and sex workers, as they prefer to be called, should enjoy the benefits of any other professional.

The prostitutes that I have had personal contact with, including J., tell a different tale. Their story is one of poverty, abuse and rejection. J. spoke of knowing three generations of women (mother, daughter, and granddaughter) prostituting themselves right now on the streets of Edmonton. J. herself represents the second generation of her family. She related her personal history of parental abuse, poverty and being sexually abused at the age of twelve – the year in which she ‘turned her first trick’.

As we listened to J., the emotions in the small lounge ran the gamut of anger, pain and laughter. She is a natural speaker, telling her ‘mess’ and imparting a powerful message to all of us living in our self-righteous kingdoms. It is hard to imagine that anyone could have left that room not feeling like Dinah’s brothers, wondering what right does anyone have to treat our sisters as whores (Gen.34: 1- 31). The truth is, there were some that did leave the lounge that afternoon totally unaffected by the reality of this modern day Rahab.

The situation is Germany is international proof of this aloofness to the suffering of women. One participant in that lunchtime social justice series made mentioned of this sad fact. An older professional lady, one who is a quiet presence on the campus shared her reaction to the news report about women being forced into prostitution by the German government.

More important for this lady was the fact that this could happen anywhere in the world, including a progressive country such as Canada. It could happen here because we have become so complacent in our democracy, self-righteous in our faith and distant to the "preying on others" to the point of social and moral blindness to ensuring justice for all in all spheres of life.

Kate Quinn, "an angel among us" as J. described her, reinforced this point. She told the gathering that the establishment of PAFFE came about when the community in which she lived could no longer ignore what was taking place around them. She said that the community finally woke up when they realized that not only tricks were being turned on their doorsteps, but also their prep school daughters could not leave their homes for school without being solicited.

J. is a living testament to the blessings being in service for each other brings. She had nothing but gratitude to and praises for PAFFE and the people who serve the organization. The counselling and employment support she has received from this wonderful group of people have helped her to be off drugs for seven years now and gainfully employed for four. Most of us were simultaneously laughing and crying when she told us of receiving a food basket valued at $40.00, after contributing $20.00 of her own, which included fruits and vegetables – products she had never eaten in her life.

Nowhere in J.s’ story did I hear her regretting learning how to cook cauliflower, being able to buy a computer for her children’s use with matching funds from PAFFE or being able to walk the streets with PAFFE to get her sisters off. Instead, she was urging each of us to do whatever we can to end the cycle of poverty and abuse which keep women on the streets.

A cycle, as seen in the German story, which continues everywhere. It continues in cities like Edmonton and in small villages. Since writing the piece of the pornography and the sex trade, I have received e-mail messages about girls being put up for sale in Westmoreland in Jamaica every Thursday. The government is supposedly caught with its pants down – figuratively and I would venture to say literally.

J. and all the women who, by the grace of God, have managed to escape the clutches of prostitution, are truly daughters of Rahab. These women are following the footsteps of the foremother and through their faith and their works are giving safe passage to the messengers of hope.

J. is a kindred spirit and a Wounded Healer who, with the help of PAFFE, is healing the wounds of countless sisters on the streets of Edmonton. She is also healing the wounds that puffed up self-righteousness has inflicted on those of us who turn a blind eye - one speech at a time.


From this moment, I choose to be all that my heart holds dear.
Loving, committed, faithful, harmonious and peaceful.
I have long desired these qualities for all my relationships
However, until today, they have eluded me.

I have come to know that to have is to be.
So today, I courageously erase all that bars my true unfolding.
My thoughts are pure, my desires pristine
Witnessing to the glory of You in me.

This is the moment of change.
Now is my New Year, the beginning of a new being.
No longer do I need to feel guilt or shame
About who I am and where I have been.

Thank you God for presence that comforts.
Moreover, for your love that guides me into each tomorrow.
Courageously, I grow forward
Speaking my truth

Blessings, until next week.