Dee's Blog
Fri 05/25/2012
Wait for the Rain
Topic: spirituality

While we often associate rain with sorrow, I find it just as useful to think of rain as refreshment.

For two weeks, here in Kansas, we've had a dry spell. Being the lazy gardener that I am, my preference is to wait for rain before I start digging. Not only is it easier, I get a lot more done in record speed!

Rain can also be associated with the Spirit.

Age has shown me that many of the things I've longed and prayed for will never be. Yet many more have come to pass while I was waiting for the rain.

What's important, as a gardener AND as a mover and shaker, is to work with the unpredictable rain. To be ready and not to fill my life with "busy work" that may make it difficult or impossible for me to act when the Spirit moves me to do something that will change the landscape of my own life or the landscape of others, whose lives I'm privileged to touch.  Even as they change and inspire me.

 Survivors often ask "when are things going to change?" They sometimes are referring to the downward spiral that seems to have come into their lives.  Other times, they refer to systems with hard hearts.

I don't have the specific answers they are looking for.  Yet I know that many good things happen for those who have the patience to wait for the rain.

 Hang in there.   Storms may seem endless, but they eventually bring rain.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:19 AM CDT
Thu 05/24/2012
The Broken Urn
Topic: spirituality

Nancy Biele, MSW, spoke to a group of survivors of clergy sexual abuse (mostly Catholic) at a Linkup conference back in 1994.  I was in the audience.

 Nancy talked about the beauty of being broken, though she never came close to minimizing the pain and suffering.  I have often gone back to her illustration.  In great detail, she described a gorgeous urn that was shattered into a thousand pieces.  It's heart-broken owner decided that she could not part with it, so began putting it back together piece by piece.  Finally, she sat back and looked at the finished piece, with all of the cracks.  It had taken on a new shape and still had jagged edges.   It really didn't resemble the old treasured urn at all.  Yet, she admired the work of art that she had put together, piece by piece, herself.  Suddenly, it dawned on her that she now loved the new piece far more than she ever loved the old.

 How I can relate to the artist, though my "urn" was far from re-assembled in 1994!

What I've come to realize is that I need to sometimes take a hammer to parts that need to be re-examined and put back together again.  Yet the sense of wholeness and balance remains, for I am comfortable knowing that I will always "know in part" and operate in a state of incompleteness.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:31 AM CDT
Wed 04/25/2012
Complicated Grief
Topic: coping

A few minutes ago, I lightly tapped a large, attractive flower pot against our concrete patio.  How shocking to hear the sound of cracking!  So clear, yet so faint, that I was almost certain before I looked.

That pot has been a part of my life for over twenty years!  It housed a gorgeous jade in a spot that the plant seemed to love until I made another big mistake and moved it outdoors, then neglected to bring it in before the first freeze a few years back!!! 

Breaking the pot wouldn't have hurt quite so bad on any other day.  Already, my heart was heavy because today is the day for the graveside memorial service for our good friend Karl. 

The pot can be replaced, but not our friend.  Maybe I'll find a pot that I treasure far more.  Never can anyone step in and take Karl's place, though.  He was about as close as I can imagine a brother ever being!

There is one thing that these losses have in common, though it's a very poor comparison:  both remind me that the longer we have a person or a belief or even something like an old pot that we treasure, the more difficult it is to imagine life ever being as good for us.  Old things pass away, of course.  The "coming new" in life takes a long time, if ever it happens. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 3:08 PM CDT
Tue 04/24/2012
The Titanic
Topic: coping

A couple of days ago, I had a call from a friend whose faith in humanity, along with her own spirituality, was seriously challenged several years ago, when we chose to stand up against her abusive pastor.

She had just been to see the Titanic in 3-D.  What struck her the most was how she felt she relates on a very deep level to the PTSD that she's read about since, in regard to survivors of this horrible tragedy.  Related on a gut level, she feels, in a way that many people would not.

To her, the betrayal of friends and church leaders, was the Titanic that caused her to experience PTSD for the first time in her life.  While she seldom has symptoms any longer and while she has moved on to develop new strands of an enriched spirituality in spite of all of that, the triggers can still put her back into the emotional waves of the "cold waters" when she was thrown off the course she had taken for granted previously.

To this experience, many of us can relate.  Life takes a new course--in spite of the Titanic(s) in our lives, as we continue to listen to the Inner Voice that helps us write new chapters.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 7:21 AM CDT
Updated: Fri 10/05/2012 1:42 PM CDT
Sun 03/25/2012
Reminder Comes Unexpectedly
Topic: Making Changes

How things change over time!  Sometimes they get worse, of course.  Yet, often with social issues, the "getting worse" is just a backlash. 

 It's two steps forward, one backward--on the average, anyway.  Yet one step can take a hundred years or more.

 Last night, we had the privilege of attending a concert performed by singers and dancers from the award-winning Soweto Gospel Singers.  It took place in an auditorium that was state-of-the-art--including it's handicapped accessibility.  We went with another couple.  The lady is also in a power wheel chair, so we made a demonstration of sorts, just getting the two vans parked, and "parting the crowds" who wisely gave respect to two fast-moving, heavy-duty chairs making their way to reserved seats that their chairs now automatically command, thanks to the ADA act.

The program took us back to our first visit to S. Africa.  In my mind, I sat watching the housekeeper for the guest house as she ironed sheets, to protect us all from the tsetse fly that loves to attach itself to fresh laundry.  It was from this dear lady that I learned the awful truth about Soweto's residents as she rushed to get through her work so she could be back home there before the sun went down.  Failure to do so would bring out the Johannesburg police to arrest her for trespassing on ANY property in this whites-only city!

Briefly, I spoke to one of the lead singers after the concert.  Chances are she never herself experienced apartheid, which probably ended before her birth.  Yet, in our conversation, I let her know of how upsetting it was for me to even know one person who was a victim of this awful set of laws.  By contrast, here I was meeting a young lady who sings joyfully of freedom and spirituality.  And I was sharing at seeing that joy from the other side of the torn remnant of change. 

Take courage!

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 2:34 PM CDT
Tue 03/06/2012
Dancing in the Rain
Topic: coping

A long-time friend, who encountered immense collusion in her church several years ago, just gave Ron and I a gift that we'll treasure for the rest of our lives.  It's a plaque that reads:  "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass.  It's about learning to dance in the rain." 

At one time, I was convinced that collusion in the institutional church would just pass when people got over the shock that it existed and learned how to stop participating in the collusion. 

 My goals in this work were twofold:

1) Educate

2) Offer support to anyone who had suffered to consequences of collusion, whether a survivor or a professional.

I figured if enough of us chose to join the goal of educating, the collusion would stop.  Then, the storm would be over, and I could get back to "dancing."

Long after I realized this was unrealistic, I was still hearing from people who refused to let go of that very thinking.  It was often hard for us to be on the same wavelength because.....well......I guess I'd been dancing too long in spite of the rain.  Though I never realized that until I got this wonderful gift, along with a note from the giver, saying:  "Thank you for teaching me to dance in the rain."  

While I don't take credit for being such an educator, it's nice to know that the message somehow was conveyed and came back in greater clarity to my own back door!" 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:37 PM CST
Updated: Fri 10/05/2012 1:52 PM CDT
Sat 02/25/2012
The Desire of Evil
Topic: Power

A few weeks ago, my grandson was sitting across the table from me.  It was just the two of us.  The conversation was at a lull, as often is the case between adults and 12-year-olds.  My eyes drifted to the book he'd laid aside while attending to his chicken nuggets.

"Is this a good book?"  I asked. 

 He assured me that it certainly was, then began to share the plot about an aspiring dragon who was having to disguise herself as a boy in order to proceed in her quest for power. 

 "Sounds like a book about girl power," I said.

"No it isn't," he assured me, as if he wouldn't be caught dead reading a book about 'girl power.'"  He allowed me to look at the summary on the back cover.

"Yep," I nodded.  "Definitely about girl power.  Is it any good?"  His response was affirmative.

"Sounds like something I need to read," I said, reaching for a pen to write down the title.  "Eon:  Dragoneye Reborn," I wrote.  "I'll find it and get back to you when I've read it, too"

Back home, I discovered the library had a waiting list.  So I elected to listen to it on CD.  Wow!  What a mind-boggling book.  It's been "sanitized" somewhat for younger minds--good thing, considering the violence that even includes a metaphorical rape that I'm thinking most young minds would not quite grasp. It's the kind of book that I could probably revisit a dozen times and still not have all the gems it offers. In fact, I'm going to recommend that my grandson go back to it again in about five years.     And maybe again in another few years when he possibly contemplates marriage and/or entering the business world.

The greatest idea that I gained from the book didn't come from the author's words.  Her words sparked my thinking to generate a profound spiritual principle that about jolted me out of my shoes!  Here it is in my own words:


Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 1:42 PM CST
Sun 02/19/2012
My Calling
Topic: Making Decisions

My divine calling is to stand up for what I believe.  As I understand it, this is the divine calling for everyone.  This is what requires me to sometimes sacrifice my time or money.   That's what I was taught, ironically in the Southern Baptist Convention, which ultimately became what I was required to stand against.  They taught me!!

Even when it went against what an institution insisted was "God's will" for me--controlling what I say--the calling, as I understood it, was one that I had to exercise.

Another vital belief--the priesthood of every believer--mixed with it to make my difficult decision to leave the work I loved, the work into which I had poured my very soul, knowing that somehow my true soul would survive.

The pain of being a "living sacrifice" sometimes continues.  I still miss old friends I lost when I stayed true to the calling that ranked higher than going somewhere far away in service to God and humanity. 

This week, my 9-year-old granddaughter couldn't sleep, so I got out the old photo albums of her dad's growing up years in the strange land where she has never been (but someday will likely go to visit with him).  Some of those pictures, as always, tug at my heart when I see the smiling faces of people with whom I'd shared so much, people I no longer would even recognize nor be able to relate with the deepest integrity I once did.

My granddaughter asked:  "Why did you ever go to Africa in the first place?"  I was able to put it in simple, 9-year-old terms.  And I think I successfully communicated what she could understand.  Someday, when the time is right, she will understand just as well what brought us home. 

A chunk of my life was cut out in 1988.  The cutting really began in 1986, when my co-workers abandoned their own calling and betrayed a lot more people than just my family and I!  In it's place, within me, is something amazing that could not have been sewn into the fabric of my soul had I remained "comfortable" with the patriarchs replacing God for me.  It includes friends--some of you I've known for longer than I ever knew my missionary co-workers.  It's new friends I would never have found, for I would not likely have ended up in this place, where new friends often receive my entire story and affirm it.

Nor would I have come full circle, arriving "at home" within a circle of Quakers today.  Maybe I was kidnapped before birth.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 8:33 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/19/2012 10:44 AM CST
Sat 02/18/2012
Is it a Personnel or Public Problem?
Topic: Power

There's a front page debate going on here in Lawrence, KS right now.  Two unidentified policemen are being investigated for fixing tickets in exchange for tickets to sporting events. 

 Very interesting because the people whose tickets were fixed have been convicted.  Seems no doubt, therefore, that a crime was committed.  

Yet the Police Dept. considers this a "personnel" matter that allows them to protect the identity of the professionals under investigation.

 It raises the question, once again, as to how we can justify protecting people who have a fiduciary duty to not mis-use their power for their own good.

If you've studied this site on collusion ( , I think you know what I think.  What about you?

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 10:02 AM CST
Updated: Mon 11/19/2012 10:38 AM CST
Thu 02/02/2012
Letter to Lawrence Journal World Regarding a Good Decision

I believe it's much more important, whenever possible, to give affirmation for good decisions that an institute makes than to berate them for the bad.

It's just like giving positive reenforcement to children.  Problem is that it seems to often be more difficult to find good decisions to honor in institutions than it is in children.

Yesterday, a local front page story (not easily available online) was that the University of Kansas has just adopted a written policy that any child abuse that is known to have occurred on campus will be reported to appropriate law enforcement officers immediately.  The article explained that this came in the aftermath of the Penn State problems. 

Except for it seeming like something that should have been done decades ago, there was nothing alarming about the article.  It certainly is a good step forward.  

Wanting to strike while the iron was hot on this one, I took time to send a letter to the journalist who has since past it on to the editorial dept. 

Here are my comments:

 "  As Chancellor Gray-Little says, we do have a moral obligation to protect members of our community. In my opinion, ALL adults should be mandatory reporters!   I am grateful that KU has now spelled out the requirement to report child sexual abuse.  Not only does this protect the children.  It protects the University.  Furthermore, it should insure that a person who reports a colleague will not be in danger of being punished by the system for doing so. 

 As a writer, the problems of institutional collusion have been a major concern of mine since I had a horrible first-hand experience of career loss myself, decades ago, because I refused to be silent when a colleague was abusing adolescent girls.  In that case, the institution was more interested in protecting itself from exposure than in protecting the young people who were victimized!  Since then, I've heard from many victims of professional sexual misconduct.  Sadly, collusion is still more the norm than the exception.
Unfortunately, the abuse of minors is just the tip of the iceberg so far as universities are involved.  We still need a lot of public education, as well as increased training of faculty members and students, so that everyone understands that young people don't stop being vulnerable at age 18 to educator abuse.  Because of the power imbalance, there is no such thing as "consensual sex" in a relationship between a faculty member and a student.  It is always an ethical violation of the one in power, regardless of the circumstances.  The laws to protect young adult students from abuse by professionals are not as strong as for minors; but the moral obligation to intervene and to support the victim, while protecting others from harm, should be of equal concern to all. 
S.E.S.A.M.E. (see )  describes educator abuse, regardless of the age of the student, as 'behavior that is psychologically equivalent to incest.'  " 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 6:08 PM CST

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