That’s the number of stories shared with me (and Lella) by survivors since Break The Silence Sunday began not quite five years ago.Seventy-eight of those have been since the beginning of General Synod on June 20th.
I’ve kept track of every story, usually initials, sometimes a name when they’ve asked me to use it, and maybe a little note as an aid to my memory about who they are and the story they carry. I’ve tried to respond to every story with gratitude for the sharing, knowing myself how hard it is to tell, to not want to be a burden, to share something that many people can’t begin to imagine, much less live with.
Lately I’ve found myself replying with words something like, “your story is heard, and believed, and held in God’s grace”. (Yes, I know that last bit might not work for everyone … so could we maybe agree on grace as a concept, in this case like tenderness and love combined, that holds the story without judgement, shame, or blame?) I’m finding those words comforting to survivors, and to myself, maybe because they’re the words I heard, and still need to hear even all these years later.
And that got me to thinking about some sort of tangible way to symbolize this with survivors come the next General Synod, 2021 in Kansas City.
The answer, clearly, is string!
If I knit one shawl every month from now until the next Synod, I’ll have 24 of them.
If I recruit other people to knit, crochet, weave string into scarves, shawls, and wubbies (more on that in a minute) then I could have oodles and oodles of objects, soft and cuddly objects, for survivors to have when they share their story at the Break The Silence Sunday booth. Because as sure as I’m sitting here, and as sure as the kittens are demanding I get up and feed them, there are gonna be a whole lot more stories now that BTSS is moving to the national stage, now that we’ve taken down the door, now that we’re all working together to break the silence.
So, here’s the plan (if you aren’t a string type creating person, please skip to step three where we need your creativity in naming things):
Step One: You – fabulously wonderful string artist type person – commence making objects in whatever pattern you like, by whatever technique you like (I am an utter failure at crochet, but I’ve been knitting for 40 years)
Shawls – something like 24″ x 60″, give or take
Scarves – well, you know, a scarf is sometimes skinny, sometimes not; sometimes long, sometimes not; variety is key here, but scarves are clearly skinnier than shawls in width
Wubbies – my William had one of these when he was little, they’re about 12″ square (big washcloth?) and get carried around in backpacks and purses and such so when you need to know it’s there, you just reach in and pet it; the person who gave us William’s called it a wubbie and so here we are
Soft, seriously soft. Don’t go into debt buying cashmere or something, but we want snuggly.
Probably acrylic or a blend thereof; if your string has wool in it, please let us know (see further steps); washable is really useful, particularly for wubbies.
Colours – somewhere in the purple-ish range of things. Purple is our theme colour for sexual assault awareness (my living room looks like Barney the Dinosaur exploded), but please think of this broadly. The string I’ve started with has loads of yellow and pink in it. And remember, purple is a whole range of colours. It doesn’t all have to be lilac and lavender pastels.
Step Two: You – fabulous string creator person – arrange to send me your creations. This step needs some sorting out. If you’re near me I can collect in person and bring you a snack. If you’re further away we shall conscript the postal services into delivering, and give the carriers a snack (and probably mail you a treat too). But, we’ll get to this when we do because it’s going to take some time to get the creations going.
Step Three: We attach a note to your creation that says something like
your story is heard, and believed, and held in grace
with the BTSS logo
maybe your first name or initials as creator
and some sort of name for this project
(hello non-string people, this bit is where we need you and your use of words to come up with what we’re calling this work). I had thought of “Comfort For Survivors”, but the more I said it in my head the more it sounded like the comfort women of World War II and I just don’t want that (if you don’t know about it, please go here … https://www.history.com/news/comfort-women-japan-military-brothels-korea).
So, the project needs a name … what shall we call it to convey the meaning that these objects are symbols of the courage of the survivor for sharing their story, it being received by our BTSS team, and it being held in the loving grace of our hearts?
Step Four: We give out these objects to survivors. Perhaps it will all be when we get to General Synod in 2021, or at the Wisconsin Conference Annual Meeting in 2020 (where I’m sure to hear many stories), or they become part of our website outreach to folks, or ??? In any event, the objects eventually end up in the hands of survivors.
Step Five: You relish in the support you’re offering to survivors you may never know, but who now feel a whole lot less alone in their stories, and in the world.
Step Six: You make more objects, and repeat the entire process until rape culture ends.
If you’re game to help, even one scarf or wubbie would be great, drop me a note: at firstname.lastname@example.org, through the comments here on the website, or on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/breakthesilencesunday/
Same goes if you’ve got ideas about what we can call this enterprise. Drop me a note and let’s get a good name going.
Also, you don’t have to be any good at this. We’ll take your best efforts. This isn’t about perfectly knitted, crocheted, or woven objects. This is about you expressing your love for survivors of rape and sexual violence.
Looking forward to all your creativity. ♥ Moira