Her earrings dangle, sparkling in the spotlight. Simple black T-shirt and black pants. No shoes, but black socks instead. Her hair a Rapunzel blonde provide a frame around her welcoming smiling face, outlined with red shiny glasses.
"The winter of 2009 was an unforgiving, bone-chilling, record-breaking snowfall winter. I can still see the icicles with their one-foot bases reading from the roof gutters all the way down to the sidewalks that had an additional two-inch sheet of ice. Most folks were complaining as they expressed their desired for an early spring thawing with a blistery hot summer to follow. Only to wind up hearing the folks of summer complaining and wishing for the cooler winds of Autumn." (Delivered, pg 3)
She turns to exit the stage, her hair clip glistening as her earrings did.
A slight-looking man and woman, him with a guitar, step up to a vintage golden microphone and begin an acoustic bluegrass song. No cords or distractions except for the microphone. The exact words broadbrush, blurring together, but the feeling echos.
The song ends with a yearn, and the simple woman steps back out to continue her story. Then the musicians. It continues in this way and the story is told.
We are barraged with stories in our world. The news, the Facebook posts, the tweets. Each person telling their part, telling the story they want you to hear. But how often to we stop and really listen to each other? How often do we take the time to hear it all? How often do you hear the story that's not being told with a megaphone, but with a whisper, a look, a tear?
When we allow people to tell their stories, we honor them. When we listen, we bless them and are blessed.
"Delivered: The Fragmented Memories of a Former Streetwalker" is a book written by Jennifer A. Clinger, a survivor of abuse and graduate of Thistle Farms Magdalene program in Nashville. Magdalene serves women affected by trafficking, addiction, prostitution, and abuse. A two-year program, it is the model which Peoria Home is emulating, along with 50 other programs across the United States. She shared part of her story in an event benefiting Peoria Home this week in Everett.
The Bittersweets are a Nashville-based band with a style unlike anything else. The pain and the joy of Jennifer's story is matched perfectly with the tunes of The Bittersweets.
Listening to Jennifer and The Bittersweets inspires the telling of my own story. In a world where everyone vies for their moment, true storytellers inspire and validate each of our experiences.
Listen to each other's stories, because in-so doing you may inspire the telling of your own, even if it's just to yourself.