“Are you ready,” he asked, “to harness the power within?” The audience applauded. He had the same intonation and inflection as on Tape #1: Self Reckoning, and Deb couldn’t help but feel a wave of elation at his words.

“We’ve talked,” he said, “about love. And you know by now that I don’t mean the love we have for our families, or our spouses, our pets, or the poor children in Africa.”

The audience members settled back into their seats, and the flutter of adjusted wings muffled Todd Rodgers’ next few words. Deb leaned forward to hear it all.

“I’m talking about the selfish kind of love, the love that preserves us, the love of our own lives, our own bodies, our own potential. This is the love that we’re supposed to be ashamed of,” he said. “Words like selfish, or egotistical, or narcissistic, or proud — these words are out there in the world to embarrass us, to belittle that love which is the most fundamental.”

Outside the clinic, all those months ago, there had been protesters, men and women with signs about self-mutilation and God’s intent, who grabbed at her as she passed, offering to teach her how to love herself as she was.

“I can’t teach you,” said Todd Rodgers, “how to love yourself. That’s something you have to do for yourself. I can’t make you look in the mirror and love what you see. But,” he said. “I can tell you that when you do, great things will start to happen. Great things will come.”

“Mmhmm,” was the murmur of the crowd, and Deb found herself nodding with them. What he said made sense. All the opposition, the protesters and the naysayers, had only strengthened her resolve. These wings were a commitment to herself, to the person she wanted to be. It felt like the first real decision she’d ever made.

“I’m not going to talk to you anymore about love,” said Todd Rodgers. “I’m not going to talk about spiritual burdens, and all those petty things that are anchoring you to this world. Everyone in this room knows what it takes by now. You know what you have to do for yourself. I’m not going to talk to you about what to eat or how to think. You know all that.”