Worthy of A Witness

“There is more.
I hear it hiding in your voice.”

~ Marie, All the Light We Cannot See ~


Eyes already welling with tears, I almost missed him toddle under the canvas flap that separated the city’s sounds and creatures that swirled around us, unaware of what was happening inside this sacred space.

I caught my breath, not wanting to interrupt her, yet fully aware she would prefer to know he’d arrived and needed this whole community’s caution and care to make his way home.

Quietly, I directed her attention to the lone duckling whose curiosity, naivete, or perhaps rebellion (ya never know!) had landed him at the center of a room full of kind souls and giant bodies that could have flattened him as they shifted and swayed to the deep emotions stirred by her storytelling.

As they had just a little more than fifteen years before, they heard her plea for help for a young one in danger and responded with the attention, care, and support required to save him from unnecessary harm.

Once he was safely on his way, she turned her attention back to sharing a part of the story they had all played their remarkable parts in.

I looked around the room, recalling stories I’d heard about this community and the bright souls that comprised it. They’d been through it together. They’d worked together, prayed together, lost together, fought together, and witnessed miracles together.

It’s common, at these events, for tears to travel down my cheeks as I listen to her express gratitude to those who ran into the middle of the darkest forest of tragedy she’d ever found herself in… who became the hands, feet, and face of Love… who took care of her home, her children, and even some of their bills while she and her husband did one of the hardest things any parents can do…

Over our meal, I connected with those at my table, matching names and faces to the stories she had shared and written.


Listening to their reflections on a journey I’ve witnessed from only one perspective for two years did what it always does. It made the story even richer. They added details she had not shared and perhaps didn’t even know still.

But then I noticed him.

Unlike the little duckling,
he belonged here among the humans.

Unlike the little duckling,
he wasn’t in any physical danger.

Unlike the little duckling,
he didn’t interrupt a good story with his presence.

But something about his posture and expression reminded me of our feathered friend as he introduced himself.

As he began to tell me his part of the story, I realized why, despite all of the differences, he appeared as vulnerable as that little duckling did in this space.

He took me back into that dark forest and showed me his part. It was intense, stilted, events shared out of order—all telltale signs of an individual still deeply impacted by a trauma.

I relaxed my posture and focused on my breath, slowing it down to give him something gentle to co-regulate to because I knew.

Like every character, he could only see details of the story from his single perspective and through the intense experiences and emotions of his role.

But me…

having a Narrator or Witness view…
I saw it.

He was the first angel assigned to this family.

He was the first hero who did the first impossible thing.

He was the first character who probably
wondered where God was in all of this.

When the truth was,
Love was right there…

In him…

Using his attention, his care, and his hands
to keep the story of a miracle moving.

When I reflected that truth back to him, there was a moment of disbelief, and then a tiny portal opened between us and I invited him to step in:

“I hope you read this book with your wife beside you, to help you breathe through it, so you can see your role in this story from my perspective. You were the first angel assigned… before anything even happened.”


We can only ever see a story through our character lens, which like every hero’s, has been uniquely shaped by the traumas, tragedies, and invitations of the past.

And sometimes, our perspectives are so limited that we lose parts of ourselves in dark forests.

Sure, we may make it to the other end of the dark forest and feel like we are finally free of it, but all it takes is someone to ask a question, or tell a story, or use a phrase to send us right back there… to the scene where it all happened and where, because we didn’t see the whole story unfolding, a part of our story ended.

This is why we need each other…

More eyes and ears to
witness events from more angles…

More hearts and minds to
hold and remember more details…

More souls to pay attention and go back
into those dark forests
to continue the great rescue mission
that is afoot for all of us.

Every single one of our stories is worth being witnessed and held gently by another.

It doesn’t matter how much time has passed.

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve thought you were free of it.

You don’t have to tell it perfectly.

You don’t have to tie it up in a neat bow if you can’t find a single piece of ribbon.

You just need to stop holding it by yourself.

…believing that it’s more insignificant than it feels.

…worried that you’re going to burden others.

…embarrassed by your humanity, as though we haven’t all had the same darkness enter our minds and hearts.

…thinking that it couldn’t possibly be part of a bigger story of redemption, miracles, or freedom.

You and your story are worthy of a witness.

And if you can’t find a trustworthy one, I hope you hit REPLY to this email and say, “I’m ready.”


Last year, witnessing one of my most painful childhood memories from another perspective healed a part of me that I’ve been attending to for years.

And if I hadn’t had allies all around me, holding various parts of my story, I know I might have missed some of the magic and miraculous healing that was available to me in that experience.

A few witnesses changed every single thing about my story and life in a matter of a few hours (instead of a few weeks, months, or years!).