Living down the road from the house where I was raped, I can’t help but admit how picturesque it is.
In a blending landscape of tan and gold and green and brown, the prairie spans unbroken—save for the occasional misplaced ring of pine planted by a persnickety home owner trying to covet privacy, or to block the near-incessant winds that blow year-round. It is not unusual to see a rider-laden horse leisurely taking this track of highway, closely followed a few minutes later by a cyclist in full race regalia. I guess you could say there is an homage to the traditional and the modern out here. It is an entertaining combination, to say the least.
The house itself is a rebellion against typical ranch-style homes, having two full levels with enough bedrooms to house at least six people, if not several more. It greets the onlookers with the brightest of sky blue paints, bordered with delightful white trim and beautiful, lush pine bushes and trees framing its foundation. Its windows are wide and large, giving the air of gazing out on the land around it with both the security and freedom one would wish to have in a home.
I remember so vividly playing Old West survival games in the gravel and grass sweeping down the driveway of that house. Lugging around an old red wagon filled with pine cones, rusted pots and pans, and the occasional toad captured and forced to be my companion, I relished in the freedom imagination gave me.
I was so young when it happened.
Sometimes I look back and wonder at the joy I felt, playing in the upturned earth and the cracked logs and the abandoned horse stalls, when I was a handful of paces from the place where my life irrevocably changed, in ways I am only just beginning to comprehend.
These musings aren’t to focus on the horrific days, or weeks, or months, after remembering what my mind knew best to keep from me until I was better able to handle it. (That was more than hashed out in a post I wrote last year, Chastity Talk from a Rape Victim; you can read it here.) Rather, these thoughts will focus on the present day, and the dark contemplation on that hellish bit of land I can see from my back window even as I write this.It’s a Catholic church now, if you can believe it. The barn where my brother and I blasted country music and played with old saddles and rifled through boxes we were best left out of is now the sanctuary; the house where my darkest night happened is now the parish office. The first time I visited Jesus in the tabernacle (kept temporarily in the guest room where I used to spend the night), I was encased in suffocating terror.
I had no idea why at the time.
I could attend Mass there in that place on Sundays, a five minute walk compared to the half an hour drive I make every Sunday, if I had the gumption to cross the property line.
Instead, I make the Sign of the Cross and blow Him a kiss as I drive past, desperate to come and see Him but knowing I need to leave the past to the past for the sake of my sanity.
It is with a dull shock of realization when I pass that place and, for a brief moment, don’t think about what happened to me there. But even so, there is that shadow in the back of my thoughts, twisting my stomach and making me ill at ease to pass the place where Christ now resides.
I do believe in the effects of evil, in the lasting scarring of both the earthly and spiritual realm after such a horror as childhood rape.
I do also believe in the majesty of God, His unending propensity to heal what was broken, and His holy vengeance to burn away that which has hurt His children.
Am I grateful to have Christ so close, even if it is a relationship of distance?
Do I also wish that house would burn to the ground and be simultaneously swallowed into a sinkhole?
But until such an event occurs, I will close my window shade, be grateful for the ambiguity of that horrific memory, and still kiss Him hello as I pass.
Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/autumn-calm-creepy-dried-leaves-461763/