The Judgement Room has a heavenly hush as I push open the heavy panelled door. I step inside, hardly able to breathe for the knot that has developed deep within my chest. I do what I can to look straight ahead, not really seeing, the combination of lightness of the room, the reverberation of my feet on the floor and revered reserve; suspended any possible train of thought or keen observation. The room is not empty, nay it is full of a sea of witnesses, not a face I could recall, even if I tried; all sat in sacred silence… waiting.
I walk slowly up the aisle, toward the petite podium that seemed to await my presence. Before me appears, although know not from where, the Offenders; behind them sat Him – The Judge. The Offenders did not plead guilty; to my surprise, they are not on trial – they simply are guilty. Each man was dressed in the same plain drab jumpsuit; all identifying features of volition and vocation had vanished. It is known to me that this was the last hour before they would be directed to their next destination. I am not privy any details of duration or direction of the judgement – it is enough that it is just.
I swallow hard… this is not the first judgement I had been part of, no, there were more than a few. I survey Him who sits on the judgement seat, keenly aware of His shocking white hair, a symbol of wisdom and authority. I have seen white hair a few times before, and been fooled by this, so I scan down to His eyes. I see no shadow of turning, clearly He is not a man that He should lie – nay – I see the fire in His eyes. This is the highest court, where mercy is tempered with justice. The judgements made are Eternal – they cannot not be appealed or overturned.
The Judge is immense and authoritative but approachable. He looks at me, in me and invites me to speak…
The Judge: “State and spell your name please.”
Me: Mrs. Lori Anne Thompson
L-O-R-I A-N-N-E T-H-O-M-P-S-O-N
The Judge: “What would you like me to know?”
(The question acts like radiation on the malignant tumor of silence threatening to metastasize…)
Me: I want you to know that deep within my chest – my heart is broken.
(Sobs escape from lips that just barely moved. I don’t look at the men, I look at The Judge. It is Him I wish to hear me, to see me, to understand me.)
Me: I want you to know that I trusted each of these men to be something sacred; father, teacher, healer and shepherd.
Me: I want you to know I loved them and I believed in them long after they were unbelievable.
(I bite my lip – hard, it bleeds.)
Me: I want you to know they stripped my clothes, soiled my hope, used my body, raped soul and crushed my spirit.
Me: I want you to know that I am a modest and naive girl, that I never learned the things I should have, and had to unlearn the things I did.
Me: I want you to know that I have always been the prey, and they are the predators.
(I gesture to them that are between The Judge and I… no accusation – only quiet observation.)
Me: I want you know that I have to work very hard to find joy and beauty because they stole it, raped it, ate it and trampled it.
Me: I want you to know that I have never been, and never intend to be a ringleader, concerned member, Potipher’s wife, an extortionist or an amateur racketeering rabble-rouser.
Me: I want you to know that I had to Google what most of the above meant.
Me: I want you to know that I miss my mom and that I am a Mom…
(At this my face crumples in pain, my hands reach up to cover the crushing vulnerability.)
Me: I want you to know that I have been lured, lied to, lied about, blamed, defamed and silenced – repeatedly.
Me: I want you to know that to defend myself in a lower court, will make it very hard for my babies to go to school.
Me: I want you to know that while I am telling You, and it helps – I don’t have a group of sisters to hug, and I will never be the hero of anyone’s story.
Me: I want you to know that this really hurts because I have a hero’s heart.
The Judge: We will take a five-minute recess to allow Mrs. Thompson to regain her composure, at which time, we will resume.