Reconciliation and Lent

Two years ago on my blog I wrote the following:

Lent is a slow turning ourselves towards God. It is the season of Lent; a reckoning of how we see the world afresh through the lens of the cross“.

It came after 2 crown court trials in a year and the worst time of my life. I write about this here.

I struggle with reconciliation. I am a Criminologist who is a Christian, but I am not quite sure that ‘setting the prisoner’ free is helping the victim-survivors who would be dead if their abuser could get at them. Or who would take their own lives to escape.

I am not a prison abolitionist. I do believe in radical reform.

Tonight’s Lent Lecture through Liverpool Anglican Cathedral introduced me to the concept of Sankofa.

I do not want to be disrespectful by misusing this term or by culturally misaproppriating it. From my limited and fresh understanding, Sanfoka means that it is not taboo to go back and reclaim what is at risk of being left behind, no matter how painful. And that through this we can enable deep cultural and personal transformation.

For a long time I have spoken about the need to tell and reclaim stories. I cannot be separated from my past, nor would I want to be.

I have a complicated and messy relationship with Criminology, and I have a messier one still with Theology.

But I guess that is ok. Those messy places of rupture are needing to create a meaningful future.

In my post The Phenomenology of Anger, I quote Adrienne Rich:

“Both the victimization and the anger experienced by women are real, and have real sources, everywhere in the environment, built into society, language, the structures of thought. They will go on being tapped and explored by poets, amongst others. We can neither deny them, nor will we rest there. A new generation of women poets is already working out of the psychic energy released when women begin to move towards what the feminist philosopher Mary Daly has described as the ‘new space’ on the boundaries of patriarchy. Women speaking to and of women in these poems, out of a newly released courage to name, to love each other, to share risk and grief celebration” (Adrienne Rich, 1979, p. 49)

Women speaking from a place of grief, anger, trauma and despair is necessary. I am not going to sanitize my experiences to make people feel comfortable.

Tonight I liked the idea that Theology is a daily pursuit for everyone at all times. Working for social justice is ministry. Listening is evangelism.

This Lent I pray that my pursuit of social justice for sex workers will be ever stronger, and that my own reconciliation with my trauma will happen.

Thank you to those people of faith, and those who question, (or no faith at all) who contact me on twitter to talk about these issues. Whilst we cannot have in-person fellowship during lockdown, having people walking alongside me on this journey is very much appreciated.

And to my very wish friends Gemma and Ros. This week you have made deep changes to my understanding.

Love as always,

Gemma xx