Though I couldn’t help but notice that I wasn’t mentioned in your recent tweet about it, I also participated in your workshop last week at Princeton Seminary that Barbara Brown Taylor crashed. The topic was fun and engaging. (Seriously, learning to turn hate mail into origami was a blast.) And your energy and enthusiasm filled the room.
Ever since, though, I have been unable to stop thinking about the things you shared with us that people have written about you through vicious comments and reviews.
Their hatred stunned me.
And their words repulsed me.
On behalf of the myriad others for whom your writing has renewed hope and given life, I am sorry.
I realize that you have worked through that junk, and I believe you when you say that a comment about “wordiness” stays with you longer than a comment about your eternal damnation. But I still have this unyielding need to remind you that their words were not only mean; they were also wrong.
I have also been thinking about something you said about yourself in the workshop.
Near the end of our time, in response to a question about the evolution of your blogging, you noted how you were seeking these days to show a bit more wisdom than you did when you began blogging. And not just the wisdom in your words, but choosing to stay silent because you no longer believe that when something happens in the world, “the world needs to know what Rachel thinks about this.”
And then you said this: “But sometimes I miss the ‘brave’ Rachel.”
And I just wanted to stand up and say, “Do you realize how brave you have been with us for these 90 minutes? Anyone can dash off angry emails or post anonymous reviews or even hit ‘publish’ on their blog. But to be as vulnerable as you have been here takes more bravery than most will ever know or imagine.”
So thanks for being the Rachel who was brave enough to be vulnerable that day.
And thanks for lifting up the importance of having people like your husband who keep us tethered to our truest selves.
And thanks for your writing that rings so true.
And, as you continue to craft your words “in the service of a generous master,” may you hear back the echoes of the truth and kindness you name so clearly until that day when the need to fold origami fades away.
With my thanks,
John P. Leggett
P.S. Please let your publisher and your sister know that I loved the gift of her music. I have worn out Snow (Baptism).