The following is an interview Becca gave about her most recent book, "The Way of Tea and Justice." Tell me a little more about how Thistle Stop Café started. The Thistle Stop Café began in June of 2013 in response to the number of people coming from around the country to learn more about the housing-first model of Magdalene and the social enterprise of Thistle Farms. The residential program started in 1997, and we had launched Thistle Farms, the manufacturing and distributing company, in 2001. Both are considered best practice models and hundreds of visitors and volunteers were coming through our doors every month for day-long immersions. It seemed like it was time for us to show hospitality to the stranger by offering healing teas and healthy food. Opening a café also enabled Thistle Farms to increase the work force of women who are survivors of trafficking, addiction, and prostitution.
What instigated you to write your latest book, "The Way of Tea and Justice"? The more I learned about tea, the more I was drawn to it. I quit drinking coffee altogether and soon found myself immersed in the history and culture of tea. Looking back, I think after writing a book on essential healing oils, it makes sense that tea would be my next venture. Hot water tinctures and teas have a rich medicinal tradition. Also, as a priest in the Episcopal Church, I love rituals, and tea is literally steeping in them!
What main takeaway do you hope people have after reading it? I hope people fall in love with justice teas produced by women getting paid fair wages. I also hope folks see how they are active participants in the commodities sold in this world. What we drink, the market will offer. What we buy, people will sell, including our own bodies. We need to cultivate rich tastes and sweet rituals for this most-consumed beverage in the entire world, after water. More than that, I hope people read the stories of the survivors in the book and learn about the link between tea and trafficking. The story of tea’s history and the story of trafficking and abuse is pretty horrible. The story of Thistle Farms and this movement is a story of hope. People can buy the teas we sell, they can share their story over a cup of tea, and they can help remind the whole world that women heal from the oldest and deepest scars. We don’t have to tolerate the buying and selling of any human being.
This is your ninth book. Does the writing process get any easier with practice? I waste so much time writing. I have learned to postpone writing by getting more distracted by all the busyness of the world. If you want me to get the laundry done or watch reruns, just ask me to start writing. The best discipline I have learned is to get up and start writing as quickly as possible before I can start the mental list of 100 reasons not to write or start reading emails and get bogged down.
What are the best and worst parts about writing a book? I love a thought rising like incense from my heart. I love reading back on a sentence and recognizing that the words reflect with some accuracy what I felt at the time. I love sharing the stories of the people in the community that are a witness to the truth of how love changes the world. I love dedicating a book to my children that I wonder if they will ever read. The worst is everything else about the process. I am so grateful that I get to write---I wish I wrote better.
When you're writing, what is your must-have? (A favorite writing utensil, certain music playing, etc.) I must have water. I must have hot water for tea and hot water to soak in as I conjure up words.
Since 1997, you've founded Magdalene and Thistle Farms, opened the Café and been recognized regionally and nationally for your work…what's next? There are three things on my horizon. A national marketing plan to sell our all-natural bug spray made from Rwandan Geranium (it's our million dollar product!;, a new capital campaign to double our manufacturing and meditation space; and a small book to young idealists searching for faith and justice called “Letters from the Farm.”