Rev. Dr. Barbara Edema reframes the concept of gaining back what was “lost” in trauma in a way that allows for new gentleness and self-compassion. The piece touches on the valid difficulties of reclamation as a survivor, and also the true inherent ownership of any pieces of self that may feel missing. With kindness and empathy, Dr. Barb gives us a piece that speaks to the theme of the fall exhibit here at Awakenings



by The Reverend Dr. Barbara Edema

A voice comes through the overhead speaker, “A cell phone has been left at airport security. Please return to security to reclaim your phone.”

When things have been lost, and then are found: Reclamation.

When things are stolen, and then recovered: Reclamation.

When things are taken that can’t be seen with human eyes, when those things can’t be found or recovered because they are intangible. Something must be done.

Who took your innocence?

Who took your womanhood?

Who took you childhood?

Who took your security?

Who took your soul?

A putrid person took your personal things.

It’s easy enough to reclaim your phone at airport security. It’s easy enough to reclaim the textbook you left behind in class. It’s easy enough to reclaim your scarf that ended up in the Lost and Found box. It is satisfying to reclaim your personal things.

Have you seen putrid people on television lately? The ones who steal, grab, take, snatch, force their prey to give up, give in?   They devour, laugh, and devour again.

There are places for those putrid people to go. When justice works, they are put away so they can’t steal from the innocent anymore.

When justice works, they hear:

“You have the right to remain silent.” Forever.

Then what? The putrid people are put away (if justice works) but you are left without so many very personal things.

They don’t get to win. They don’t get to keep what they stole. They don’t get to keep your soul.

Reclamation is the process of claiming something back.


Reasserting a right.

You have the power now.

I know, I know. You are…






Not believed. 

Not worth it.


You are not a putrid person. If someone told you that, or looked at you that way, or if you told it to yourself, it’s just not true. Truly. Not. True.

You have the right to live. You have the right to love and be loved. You have the right to feel everything. You have the right to yell and scream. You have the right to cry and grieve. You have the right to honor your preciousness.

For you are a precious person.

A voice comes through the overhead speaker (or possibly a gentle whisper in your ear):

“Hi you! Guess what? You have found your personal things. Yes, You. You may feel the satisfaction of being whole and healed and loved and precious. You don’t need to go back to fetch anything from anywhere anymore (unless you leave your umbrella at Starbucks again).”

You may accept appreciation for what you do. You may accept praise and admiration. You are allowed to set self-doubt outside with the recycling. Self-doubt will be recycled into self-acceptance.

You felt lost, but now you are found.




The Reverend Dr. Barbara Edema has been a pastor for over twenty five years. Her most recent pastorate was interim work at an open and affirming church in Grand Ledge, Michigan. She is a survivor of sexual abuse. She is the author of poems and prose about abuse and healing. She is also the author of The Pastor Maggie Series available at and She is a wife, mother, and happy owner of four rescue cats.