Antiracism, Healing meditation, Liturgy, Racial Justice, Trauma recovery, Violence

White Women’s Confession and Litany

As with all liturgies, this confession and litany has a life of its own. The words printed here will shift and change voicing the needs of each context. If you use this confession and litany in any form I ask that you attribute the work to me even if you add or modify the work. The attribution may look like: “Our Confession and Litany today is based on a litany and confession written by Jennifer Ohman-Rodriguez.”

Please also let me know you are using it. Thank you.

The assembly prays using these or similar words.

We, white bodied, white raised, and whiteness perpetuating women confess to God, ourselves, and to all others.

We confess we have social privileges and advantages other women do not have.

We confess we ignore other women do not have what we have.

We confess we take for granted the gifts of these advantages.

We confess we unconsciously and consciously think we deserve what we have over what other women do not have.

We confess we buy into the view that what we have is scarce and cannot feed all women.

We confess we hoard life’s bounty and in doing so allow others to suffer.

We confess there is so much we do not know and do not see.

We confess all that we leave undone each day for the unity of all human beings.

We confess we partake in communal sins of omission.

We confess to you, God ,and to all women and in doing so ask to be released from these evils imploding within us and out into the world so that we take only what we need. Making sure all are fed. Joining in the work of bringing your love-in-action into reality for all women.

We confess.

We, white bodied, white raised, and whiteness perpetuating women lament to God.

We cry out and in doing so our tears follow the tears of women kept down, aside, and under in an ongoing parade of lament before God.

We wail and in doing so tell the world we create ourselves and all others in God’s image. Not in man’s. Not others’ gender norms. Not from others’ perceptions of beauty. Not in human-made values of class structure.  Not in empire’s power. Not in colonialism’s tyranny. Not in racism, genderism, or faith-ism. We lament, cry, and wail and in doing so imagine who we can be and are not yet.

We lament and in doing so ask for courage and tenacity in bringing your kingdom to earth. We feel weak in the face of this work. We lament this untruth of our weakness allowing this lie to dissipate and disappear into the atmosphere. We seek then through you O, God, to manifest your goodness and love which can only be fully revealed when all of creation and all of creation’s people are seen, heard, valued, and healed.

We lament.

We, white bodied, white raised, and whiteness perpetuating women feel.

We feel the pings, pinches, and punches of our battered bodies.

We feel the words we have not been allowed to say screaming from our souls out into the world.

We feel compassion for ourselves and for what we have not been allowed to reveal.

We feel and embrace the heroic and lifesaving ways of our bodies.

We feel what we know, do not know, do not want to know.

We feel, holding hope for all women to heal.

We feel understanding all bodies are one. One in God.

We feel.

We, white bodied, white raised, and whiteness perpetuating women begin and continue healing.

We heal, transforming our pain, the pain perpetuating damage onto other women, into goodness.

We heal as a continuation of life itself.

We heal, health giving new birth to new life.

We heal, tending all new life as if raising our own beloved children.

We heal, each one of us healing so that healing becomes greater than hurting.

We heal, healing becoming a way of life, one eradicating the wounding of hiding, avoiding, and blinding the hurt of hurting.

We heal.

We, white bodied, white raised, and whiteness perpetuating women act.

We act by refusing to accept the story told to us from birth that we are somehow different and better than other women.

We act in ways of public compassion first feeling the sorrows and joys of all women everywhere while no longer remaining silent or still.

We act, learning day by day how to bring God’s kingdom to earth.

We act, each of us becoming justice in words, deeds, marches, votes, public service, and answering yes to where we are called to serve.

We act in prayer. Never stopping. Never ceasing. Always praying. Until all women are whole. All girls are never torn apart.

We act as love. Building love out of healing, compassion, respect, and willingness.

Together, we white bodied, white raised, and whiteness perpetuating women lift up these prayers to you O, God. Trusting in your infinite mercy, grace, and spirit-filled direction. Breathing in your transformative power. Allowing its infusion to build our courage for the work to be done in us, among us, and around us. Amen.

Image by CentrArredo from Pixabay

Healing, Hope, Prayer, Trauma, Trauma recovery, Violence

Prayer is Only the Beginning

Pray for compassion, for just mercy, for our culture prone to carry unhealed pain buried within its layers of lies and controversy until it explodes into others–so often and again our innocents. Then get off your knees advocating with every word, deed, action, courageous works of self-healing, and posture for God’s love, compassion, and justice to rule our world. Not those humans whose pain permeates their stolen power. Prayer is like empathy, only the beginning. The first step. Stagnant unless it leads to compassionate action.

Strength in Story, Trauma, Trauma recovery, Violence



I am young. In my very early twenties. Long, blonde locks cascade down my back flowing toward earth in gravitational pull. My natural hair color swinging back and forth as I walk. Covering up a bit of my curvy spine when let loose. Creating messes in my hair brush and shower drain.

Garnering me attention. Not wanted. Hurtful. Whistles, cat calls, and sexualized verbiage making my body tense up, harden like a brick. Avoiding certain streets at certain times of the day. Approaching working construction sites with stomach churning. Embracing winter. Muscles finally free within my wrappings. Years and years before I learn phrases describing my almost daily experience then:  Sexual harassment. Specifically street harassment.

Yesterday my friend from long ago days texts me. Asks me if I’d seen the article in a well-known newspaper. The one naming famous classical music people as sexual abusers. Reminding me of one. A guest opera director in our opera prep program at one of the top ten music schools in the country. A man who openly bragged about the thousand women he slept with. Taunting student listeners with his sexual promiscuity as the AIDS epidemic ramped up, eventually killing beloved friends involved in our program.

This man singles me out. Me, a chorister in La Boheme. Begging for a dinner.  Eating alone on the road so very lonely he said. Me, finally saying yes for the adventure of it. Being propositioned at the table. Turning him down. His retort delivered in French accent. Words meant to cut deep. “You know, you are not so very beautiful.”

Soon after this dinner maybe a day later in front of a crew of stage hands, he slams me against the brick wall of the theater’s backstage. Grabs my chin. Forces his lips on mine. Pins me with his body. Between solid brick and anger.

No one helps me.

At first stunned. Body shutting down. Mind not comprehending. Then frantic. Wiggling. Somehow pushing him away. Screaming something at him. Walking into the hallway. Wringing with adrenaline, anger, disgust, and contempt.

Later, maybe that day. Maybe the next. I call him out of rehearsal. Something not done. Ever. Not by a mere chorus girl.  Demanding a moment with a big director taking up his precious and well-paid time. But in the wide corridor of the performing arts complex I say, “What did you think you were doing?” My words echoing off the walls. Words I have not been taught but somehow absorbed into my sense of right and wrong. “You ask first. You ask and then I either say yes or I say no. BUT YOU ASK FIRST!”

It helps in this moment that I am taller than he is. But the power differential is not lost on me. I play now with fire. His strength is not in his height or physical prowess. It is in his ability to make or break my future career. We both know this fact. The incensed anger within me however pushes out into the atmosphere. This time, I scare him. He leaves me alone from then on.

Like most women, I grew up eating, sleeping, and breathing this communal disinterest in how often our bodies are commented on and attacked. As if our bodies are fully extracted from our hearts, souls, and minds. Not of our doing. But of others. A right of unasked for cultural passage. No matter how wonderful our homes were, are and our fathers, friends, and partners.

Culture teaches. It molds. Keeps the harassed and abused silent. Then and now. As victims push memories away. Forced into our stomach aches, migraines, depressions, and autoimmune disorders. Into our bodies because until recently there has been no place for these facts to be embraced in the air around us. Lifted up as truths to be told. Unless we are blessed with incredible therapists who understand what sexual trauma does to our bodies over time. If not healed. If ignored like the greater culture minimizes and ignores our pains, no matter the extent of the abuse.

Hearing the news about this man of long ago, brought from the depths of my sinews what it felt like to be pinned against that hard, rough, brick wall. The panic of my breath when forcibly shoved. The being alone or on my own in front of a slew of witnesses. The tightness of my jaw. The pain radiating in the back of my head. The many times since when stressed or angry feeling someone or something pinning me down. Pressing in on my capture. Escape not insured. Sensations whose origins I could not fully place ricocheting within me. Creating emotional and bodily havoc. Until now.

That’s what naming these wrongs out loud in any form of the public square allows us. The many of us. The more of us than others. No matter our birth sex, preferred pronoun, race, ethnicity, religion, neighborhood, town, state, region, income, education. No matter what. Except our category as human beings. Naming begins healing. Allowing us to feel, recognize, remember in our bodies once again these unasked for and unwanted sensations. Connecting sensations with emotions. Realizing how sensation and emotion work together, either for us or against us. But in doing healing work, freeing us from the perpetuated evil of what first occurred. Saying “no” to this ongoing, unasked for payment living in our bodies.

Healing builds strength. An upholding and embracing of inner and outer resources. Mine, my words. Even then before I knew I was a writer. My words providing safety. Breaking me free. Now joining the words of others. Making known to all the narrative of our tragically universal experience wrapped in story, verbal exchange, essay, and in communion with one another. Words tearing down this sexual harassment, abuse, and violence wall. Destroying its silence with language brick by brick by brick by brick.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

For more information on how the human body absorbs trauma see the following books I found on Tony’s shelves after his death:

Healing Trauma by Peter A. Levine.

The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk.