I sit in a darkened theatre, facing a small stage, listening intently, noticing and observing. I get pulled in. Led by the heart, I journey through a story that will leave me to go home alone with a sick, sinking feeling in my gut.
On that stage is the brokenness of one. A young girl, so overwhelmingly vulnerable underneath the heat and dust of her town. She sits and sways in my memory. The compassion inside of me wants to protect her, to ensure she has a chance at life and hope and beauty. Another part of me is torn up by her situation. I hate – in the full weight and disgust of the word – what she has been forced to. I hate that another looks on her as a commodity and that there is not one standing between her and those that would take advantage of her in the sickest of ways. She is peddled and sold over and over again.
I am simultaneously drawn to and offended by her existence.
I have been here before. It is a familiar feeling, the gnawing pain in my chest; the heart crying out for mercy – as much for itself as for another. This territory is not untraveled, but is still harsh.
The depiction haunts me like the “witnesses” that haunt the stage. Always there, wondering what will happen, lending their own agony to remind of the gravity.
The emotions around the real stories of injustice build a sort of sanctuary that demands honoring, an offering of suffering. It is messy, chaotic, full of fear and rage, sadness and pain – emotions so valuable – like the rarest of stones. Dishonoring the people that inspire them would be the worst kind of sacrilege. She Has a Name reached out and brought the issue into the public without disrespecting those that suffer today. It didn’t package it neatly, letting us off the hook. It didn’t form a trite or cheesy product. It didn’t tell the audience what to think. It wasn’t afraid to offend.
In my processing and quiet with this issue weighing down my heart I realize that I want to give the actors, the director, the crew, the writer a gift for telling this story so well. I have nothing to offer them that would represent my gratitude for honoring a young girl in a faraway place. As her tears and our tears are collected I pray and commit again to being open to any call that would take me her way . . .