Dottie woke up wondering where she was and why she was so cold. The first thing she noticed was that she must be outside – she was lying on cold ground and snow was hitting her in unusual places. That’s when she noticed the second thing. Her skirt was pulled up past her waist and her panties were gone. Damn those bastards. It started to come back to her.
Dottie is now on an odyssey; a journey not of her choosing; a journey of healing, integration, and reconciliation that will involve her partner, her friends, her enemies, her church, her whole community. And her rapists. As she fights her way through social stereotypes about rape and rape victims, she also finds the strength to overcome society’s messages of who she should be and lays claim her true self. But the memories, the loss, the anger – and the fears – never go away. No woman chooses to be raped. I asked Dottie why she chose to tell me a story of rape. She said that millions of women, hundreds every day, have stories of rape that never get told. She told her story because she could. Because she had to. Because maybe people would hear in a work of fiction a Truth that they could not hear in any other way.
“Look to your left. That person has divinity inside them. Look to your right. That person has a divine spark. Now tap the shoulder of the person in in front of you. When they turn around, say, ‘Namasté. I honor the divine spark within you.’
“As you prepare to celebrate Christmas, as we prepare to invite one another to the communion table, think on this: Mary was an unwed mother, but she was not unclean. Joseph was a lecherous old man, but he was not unclean. The shepherds lived in the fields with the sheep, but they were not unclean. The Magi were heathens from a pagan land and probably not circumcised, but they were not unclean. And Jesus was born among the donkey dung and slept on top of a cow’s supper, but He most assuredly was not unclean.
“Let it be so.”
As Pastor Allen spoke, Mandy sat with her arms folded across her chest and her legs pressed together. When others were looking left and right, she didn’t move, and when she was tapped on the shoulder, she didn’t turn around. She just pursed her lips into a tighter line.
But those who sat near her thought they saw the least glimmer of a tear in the corner of her eye. Whether it was for her church, or for the Pastor, or for herself, no one could guess. Even Mandy didn’t know. But part of her, a part she was afraid of, a part she was trying to ignore, thought that maybe, just maybe, it was for Dottie.
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Who in the book is you?
There are little parts of me in many of the characters. The first time I told my story was on page one where Glenda makes a promise to herself not to let others tell her what to do and knows that she won’t be able to keep it. Dick is an examination of my shadow zone – if you don’t own all of your psyche, the parts you suppress come out pathologically. When Dottie tells the counselor about losing her sense of living a charmed life, the description of that charmed life is all me. So are many of her memories about books and radio shows. I think that her extreme makeover before she returns to Third Methodist is a wish of mine. The closest I have ever come to that is abandoning my cargo pants for Levis 511 skinny jeans.
Pastor Allen writes the sermons I would write. I didn’t ask the character what to write, I put myself in the pulpit and wrote what I would say. So Pastor Allen doesn’t have much that isn’t me.
But mainly I am Dan. Dan is into process, he is into group wisdom and helping groups be smarter than any one member of the group. That sounds easy, but most groups end up being much dumber than the dumbest member of the group. This book is mostly about Dottie’s personal process of healing, but when there is group work to be done, I had to step in as Dan to get it done correctly.
E.S “Ned” Ruete is an author, speaker, group facilitator, women’s rights activist, LGBTQIPA+ ally, lay preacher, guitar picker, and business analyst. He is the author of Seeking God: Finding God’s both/and in an either/or world and Lead Your Group to Success: A Meeting Leader’s Primer.
Now retired, Ned lives in Niantic, Connecticut with his second wife. He continues to offer pro bono group facilitation and facilitation training to schools, churches, community groups and not-for-profit organizations. He has led strategic planning retreats for United Action Connecticut (UACT), Fiddleheads Food Co-op, and ReNew London. He is actively involved in LGBTQIPA+ advocacy and annually attends and presents sessions at the True Colors Conference. He is a member of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) formerly served on the Association Coordinating Team (ACT, the IAF Board of Directors). He was associate editor of Group Facilitation: A Research and Applications Journal and has contributed articles to Group Facilitation, The Facilitator, and other publications on group facilitation and management consulting.
Off Season is Mr. Ruete’s first fiction work
See his consulting products at MakingSpaceConsulting.com
and his books at MakingSpaceConsulting.com/Publish: http://www.makingspaceconsulting.com/Publish.htmlhttps://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XCZN2LM/ref=x_gr_w_glide_ku