Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Farming for Freedom

Pat was sick. She had just returned from a stay in the hospital and the news about her future wasn't good.  When I called the borrowed cell phone she had been using and asked what she wanted me to bring to her, she said "meat."  She had spoken two words in this conversation, "hello" and "meat," and I was laughing already.  I asked what kind of "meat" she wanted and she said "pork chops, and whatever else you see that I might like."  

So, the next day I arrived with grocery bags, and Pat was glad to see me and the meat.  I was in one of my thinner phases and she complimented me on my trimmed down figure, then showing me her belly, distended by illness, surgery, and medication.  I felt the reality of my friend's life growing short, although she survived another three years, and a few more meat deliveries, after that meeting.   

I had danced with, worked with, and loved Pat.  She came to a volunteer welcome meeting with me once, and made everyone laugh by comparing herself to a thistle, saying that she had been thorny and prickly before she found Thistle Farms and Magdalene.  I added that she was still, maybe, just a little bit prickly.  She continued by saying that since her experience in drug addiction had been so extreme, she wasn't  scared of getting stuck by a thistle thorn like I was, further explaining that I wasn't very tough and had bad taste in music.  Her familiarity and warmth always made me feel so very loved.

How perfect that as I left Pat that day I came upon a patch of thistles by the railroad tracks at the edge of her apartment complex.  

These were the first thistles that I had ever picked without a group of happy volunteers around, and I cried with each thorny snip.  I was standing alone, awash in the gifts of health and freedom, grief and aloneness.  Mourning and treasuring the beauty of a friendship that was certain to end.  All of this, at the roadside, with a handful of thistles.  

These are Pat's thistles. These are the thistles that changed me.  These are the thistles that freed me.  These are the thistles I picked the day I became a true "thistle farmer."

On Saturday, May 19, we will hold our first annual "Farming for Freedom."  On that day I will be picking thistles in honor of my friend Pat who knew both imprisonment and freedom of many kinds.  The thistles we pick on that day will be incorporated into the handmade paper that will be made into cards, journals, boxes, and Christmas ornaments at Thistle Farms.  Gifts that will travel the world with greetings of peace.  

Place into your heart the things that are dear to you and join us as we celebrate our freedom to truly make the world our farm.  

WHEN:  Saturday, May 19, 10:00AM
WHERE:  Meet at Thistle Farms, 5122 Charlotte, Nashville, TN  37209
HOW:  We'll gather together, then separate into groups to pick thistles in preselected areas, returning our harvest to Thistle Farms for drying.
REMEMBER:  To wear long pants, and bring garden snips and/or scissors.
QUESTIONS:  Go to the Thistle Farms & Magdalene Volunteer Page or email stacye@thistlefarms.org.

by Stacye Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator

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