Viewing entries tagged
Justice

Love Beyond Borders: 7 Calls to Action

Love Beyond Borders: 7 Calls to Action

I recently traveled with a group of Thistle Farmers to the border towns of Mc Allen, Brownsville and Harlingen TX. We visited nonprofits and foundations, talked with judges and local families and led an all-day workshop for community leaders. What I learned there has prompted me to think about how the Thistle Farms Global community might work to effect change for more just solutions to the current crisis on our southern border.

A New Emancipation Proclamation

A New Emancipation Proclamation

Recently, I have kept returning to the idea of Emancipation. My hope for sexual assault survivors, who are willing to speak their truth amidst their pain and hard work, is that there is healing. Not just for themselves, but for this culture that would still rather keep the secrets of abusers than hear the cry of those assaulted.  

#hereweare: The Beloved Community

#hereweare: The Beloved Community

The Circle at Thistle Farms (Photo Credit: Peggy Napier) 

The Circle at Thistle Farms (Photo Credit: Peggy Napier) 

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'" 

--Martin Luther King, Jr.

The prophets always start with #hereIam, but as they proclaim justice in the world, they move to #hereweare.

The work of justice is a community endeavor. Micah, Amos, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all spoke of the work of community in pursuing justice for all. This applies to our Circle as well.

None of the women of Thistle Farms made it to the streets or prison alone. It took a bunch of failed systems and communities to help them get there. So it makes sense that it takes a community proclaiming #hereweare to welcome them home.  

Next month marks the 200th anniversary of the great American prophet Frederick Douglass's birth. His great, great great-grandson Ken Morris, said, "If Frederick were alive, he would tackle the modern-day slavery issue of Human Trafficking."

At this time of year when remember those who have paid the way and given their lives to the work of justice like Douglass & Martin Luther King, Jr., I am so grateful to be able to say #hereweare. Each day we take part in this work and pray for justice, we honor King's vision of a Beloved Community, and help welcome the next woman through the doors. 

Love is the most powerful force for change in the world. We need each other. We need this Beloved Community to keep going and to be able to love the whole world one person at a time. 

#LoveWelcomes: A Guest Blog

#LoveWelcomes: A Guest Blog

A Syrian Refugee preparing materials to be woven into a welcome mat 

A Syrian Refugee preparing materials to be woven into a welcome mat 

This blog was written by Regina, a Survivor-Leader, Magdalene Graduate, and founding member of the Thistle Farms community. In April of 2017, Regina went to Greece with Becca and the Welcome Project Team to help start a new social enterprise for Syrian Refugees. The following is Regina's reflection on her experiences in the camp. 

I am very grateful for the opportunity to continue the work that started in this community long ago. I am amazed that Survivor-Leaders in the community of Thistle Farms continue to light the candle, not just for the addicted and abused women still walking the streets in our own backyard, but also for the Broken Hearted All Over This World. As a witness to this, our community--that God birthed through Becca--took the Spirit of hope, faith and love across the ocean to a refugee camp in Ritsona, Greece.

Wooden looms, strips of fabric ripped a world away in preparation, life jackets cast aside on the ocean by refugees from Syria after surviving the treacherous journey from their homeland to the camp became the seeds that helped a group of eight displaced and impoverished women turn into a social enterprise right before my eyes.

People that felt hopeless found healing love from our community. Light, laughter and love was palatable in their weaving. It's an awesome feeling to know that this grace we've been given can be passed on, even when circumstances seem insurmountable.

I'll never forget the faces of those women or the hope that began to show in their eyes when they realized that we were there to help them produce a livelihood for themselves through something that up until then had brought death to them all in one way or another. They now have a positive outlook on something tragic and designed to destroy.

After coming back home, I find myself tired, emotional, and full of the joy that comes from having witnessed that The Welcome Project's confession #lovewelcomes made good on its promise. As of this post, there are nine women weaving and healing their community, and I am humbled by the chance I was blessed with to give back once more in gratitude for all I have received. 

I have been a Survivor-Leader for twenty years now, and I believe in this justice work more than I ever have because I know the community of Thistle Farms welcomes anyone who is lost, broken, and searching for a way to the Circle. And, in the end, we believe that through community we all can find our way home.  

Now you can join the #lovewelcomes movement too by preordering your own welcome mat here. 

Do. Love. Walk.

Do. Love. Walk.

Do. Love. Walk.

January 29, 2017

Micah 6: 1-8 Matthew 5: 1-12

The prophet Micah preached in the 7th century BCE during the time Samaria fell. He was watching Jerusalem being destroyed because of an invasion. Micah prophesied the fall of Jerusalem specifically because of the dishonestly in the marketplace and the corruption in the government. You probably think he would be ranting and railing and calling everybody out, saying how bad everyone was. Instead Micah calls upon the old prophecies of Moses and Abraham and asks the people, “What does the Lord require of you?” It’s not all gloom and doom; it’s a chance for restoration. What does the Lord require of you, but to do three things—do, love, and walk. “Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.”

January 29, 2017 Fast forward seven hundred years. Jesus gathers a group on a hillside. Same war, different invaders. Same oppression, different people. Same fears, same cynicism. All of it. He picks up, like Micah, the old truth of how we are to live and to love in our faith. Jesus then preaches the Beatitudes: Blessed are you when you are peacemakers. Blessed are you when you are meek. Blessed are you when you are mourning, when you can still weep for love of those who are oppressed. Blessed are you. Do, love, walk.

It takes him three years to move from those Beatitudes to Jerusalem—a journey he could have made in a week had he been on a warpath. But he was on a peace path. He took three years to make that journey because he saw people hurting, and he loved them. He saw people lost, and he helped them find their way. He saw people mourning, and he comforted them. He saw people in prison, and he took the time to visit and send good words back. All the while—doing, loving, walking. That is our call today. For all the years the world has suffered under powers and principalities that do injustice and harm, we are called to do, love, and walk. We don’t numb out; we don’t freak out. We don’t do anything, but what we have always been called to do. We keep doing it. I believe there are three ways for us to keep doing this—to keep doing, loving, and walking. 

First—we do justice in communal cooperation. We don’t act in silos. We come together to do justice. Recently Thistle Farms welcomed an initiative called Pathfinders for International Justice in Benin, Nigeria, to come and speak. The director shared the statistics that nine out of ten girls who are trafficked in Europe and Eastern Europe are from Nigeria. Specifically, from Benin City where one out of three girls before the age of 13 are approached by traffickers. It’s what happens to people because of the vulnerability and the violence of poverty. They are also working to help free the 276 Chibok girls who were kidnapped from their school by the Boko Haram. About 180 of the girls are still missing more than a 1000 days later. Pathfinders international is working with groups all over the world to work with and share the story of these girls. We all need to work together to do justice on the young girls’ behalf. Helping one another to tell the story is how you do justice.

Second— we love kindness by keeping a proper perspective. No one’s candle is brighter than anybody else’s. We all have a candle. If you think your light is so bright, you are misled or that it is so small that it doesn’t make any difference, you are misled. We all have this beautiful light within us. When we keep that proper perspective, we can appreciate the kindness of someone lighting ours and when we are able to light someone else’s. The proper perspective on this work and kindness is that we are humbled in the right way, that we are courageous in the right way.

I just got off a cruise with Dorris, a powerful survival leader at Thistle Farms. Dorris tells her story of how she was trapped in a ten-block radius for 20 years and not being able to figure out how to get out. She tells the story about touching the ocean for the first time, feeling the tide, and wondering, “Has this been doing this my whole life?” Last week out on the rough, wide-open seas, she stood on the stage and preached with amazing grace about our light in this world. We are not the light. We receive it and we give it. We can move from a trapped unjust system of ten blocks to the rocking, wide-open seas and be grateful all along the journey. Dorris eloquently spreads her message, “We have a lot of work to do. Let’s keep going; there are so many folks who need help.” We keep loving the kindnesses we see and offering love to the very next person.

Finally--to walk humbly is remembering to ground ourselves in the truth that loves lies down for the sake of others. We can do no more than do the same for one another. Nothing we do in justice work is new. It's old and grounded work that is humbling. We are rooted in the most radical way, the humble roots of loving the whole world one person at a time. A community interested in doing justice and loving kindness is humbled enough to keep going back and working harder.

That is how we live. We practice communal cooperation, we have a proper perspective, and we ground our ministry. That’s the way it has been and that’s the way, God willing, it will always be. We all have been given a great tradition. 

"Walking with Grace:" New Poems

"Walking with Grace:" New Poems

i just wanted to share some recent poetry I have been writing this summer on sabbatical.  some of it was written in Wyoming, some in the woods in Tennessee, and some is just the outpouring from the gift of time. 

love, becca

 

tripped up

I cross my heart at the altar,

then trip over my own two feet.

I get in my way so easily

that roots, open doors, or tiny cracks

throw me for a loop.

Walking with grace is a dream

Offered to flawless women I pass.

I know my mistakes so well.

They are scarred on the back of my hand,

tattooed on my lower back,

and etched on my heart.

I wonder if people see them in my eyes

or read them into every line

I write about mercy.

The times I have tripped

Kept me close to the ground.

Mistakes have taught me everything

I have ever known about love.

My missteps lead me to the place

Where I can trust that

Tripping puts me into love’s arms.

 

still mountain lake

Her silk water reflects landscape in watercolor perfection. 

Clouds sail past like four-masted ships on her canvas.

Wind becomes incarnate, rippling her surface.

The thimble weed and delphinium share the shoreline 

where we come to her curved boarders to quench longing.  

The faithful pine and aspen suiters watch over her.

We are parched for her life-giving water formed 

In the mystery of mountains and carried down canyon aisles.

Mica adorns her with hints of jade that add to her calm majesty.

Silt and mud sink at her feet in quiet repose; 

Their glacial journey long ago laid to rest.

She laughs as rainbow trout swim in her belly,

Hungry for the next hatch of flies she offers with grace.

Breathing in thin air on your way makes you dizzy with dreams.

In her deep black eyes, you look perfectly young again and know--

This is why you love still waters.

 

pearls of great price

When I still spoke as a child

And dreamed of being a dancer

my innocence was traded

For a precious secret pearl.

I placed it in a silken purse

bound to my heart for years,

praying a moth would eat through it

Or a thief cut it loose.

Instead of dancing,

I dreamed of forgiveness

That would let me offer the pearl

More valuable than a widow’s mite.

I could lay on the altar of my youth,

And watch the stone roll away.

Burn the purse as a sign of grace,

And dance around the flame.

Marveling at my unbridled heart,

Done grieving things I can’t change

And holding on to useless treasure

I would be free at last.

 

the edmond-pettus bridge

I drove down to Selma

About 50 years late

To see What its like to cross

That bridge when I finally

come to it.

Weary signs marked the way

Where heroic black men and women took

The high road against violent terror.

Stopping under a Lob Lolli pine

I saw the spans from a distance

And wondered if forgiveness lives

Like an old troll under the Pettus buttresses

Or if its more like water flowing,

long since carried out to sea.

Maybe we are alone in thought,

But maybe its planted in us

By more faithful pilgrims who

Knew their way here without signs.

 

dancing with cicadas

The cicada’s high-pitched,

Wavy, tymbal song

At first blush is incarnate stress.

It builds from white noise

Into the forefront of thought

Pushing peace to the recesses of memory.

The woods sound like a loud club

Where the noise rises beyond reason.

People are drowned out of thought.

Suddenly the whirring becomes the music

and the cicadas call us to the floor with

fluorescent disco wings twerking.

The pulsing sound shifts from stressful

To delight with dervish drumming.

I hope they don’t quiet down until

I feel dizzy from this dance.

The cicada is not made to stress,

But to help us find rhythm and dance.

 

lofty dreams

The storm is brewing in the mountain top.

Clouds are a stage for lighting dances

As thunder rolls in a distant heaven.

Hawks soar low as they scan the meadows

Looking for the needle in a haystack of prey,

Like pilgrims searching for a thought.

Moses saw God near predators gliding on updrafts

Where lofty thoughts dwell

As longings are sated by inspiration.

Mountain tops roar with of power.

Born in the depths of sea, they are the survivors.

We climb their backs to rest with mountain dreams.

 

Photo Credit: Becca at Radnor Lake, Peggy Napier