Yesterday’s post was not-so-serious, so I’ll balance things out (perhaps karmically?) by calling attention to a book and organization that impresses me.
Thistle Farms is a non-profit business operated by the women who live at Magdalene, a two-year residential community in Nashville. The women at Magdalene have survived lives most of us can hardly comprehend, from prostitution and addiction to violence and abuse. They come to Magdalene to recover and start over, and Magdalene offers them a safe place — filled with compassion, discipline, and community — for up to two years. Totally free.
There, the women operate Thistle Farms, a business creating (and selling) natural bath and body products. This helps them gain job skills and learn to work in a cooperative, professional business environment. They’ve chosen the thistle for their name because thistles grow on the streets these women used to walk. Thistles are prickly weeds on the outside, but there’s a lot happening under the surface — they have deep roots and a soft, beautiful center. Turns out that’s a nice metaphor for the women behind the business.
The women of Thistle Farms aren’t just soap-makers, though. Along with Magdalene founder Becca Stevens, they’ve written a book called Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart, published by Abingdon Press, which packages up their street- and life-tested wisdom — along with some heartbreaking story snippets from their lives — into a nice little paperback gift book.
A sample from p. 21 of the book: I have a broken body…I have jumped off hotel roofs to avoid the police ad have survived being stabbed. My body wants to be medicated to forget the brokenness and all the times I abused it to get a fix. On my best days I know even this broken mess of a body is a temple of spirit. I am trying to hold onto the knowledge that I began with God and I am God’s child.
A lot of us probably need to do at least one of these things after laughing at yesterday’s Christ of the Junkies painting.