Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sanctuary


Shelia, Dorinda and I had a great intro meeting with the six new residents of Magdalene on the Inside. We talked about our first meeting with the first residents of Magdalene in 1997 and how we could never have imagined how that community could grow and blossom. The conversation flowed easily between past fear and shame to future hopes.  Women teared up most as they described what it means to be open to healing. We began with writing the word "sanctuary" and as we talked one of the women sketched a beautiful thistle under the word.  


There is so much work and we all made a commitment to dig deeper than the taproot of a thistle to get to the roots of what lead to the streets and the foundation of love. Everyone also committed to not talking with other inmates about what a woman says in the circle and what bonding with one another might look like. We told them that they were now considered six new residents of the program, that they would get a small stipend and that we would write to them and have a place for them when they were released. There is so much work ahead and we need volunteers to help with things like the Christmas party Shelia has planned and scrapbooks for Christmas. Clinicians from the Rape and Sexual Abuse Center are coming to help weekly and residents will write to them over the next few months. The program is planned for three nights a week for two hours at this point. We are brainstorming about how we can make some arts and crafts to be used to help raise money for this prototype for community inside prison. I remember the first time we had a conversation about it was after visiting a women's prison in Texas when we saw a women that had deep ruts in her cheeks and tears flowing like a stream through them. It was a visual of how lonely and scary a place it can be and we talked afterwards about what it would be like to try and create a sanctuary with a very small group of women inside. I love that its coming to life. 

By Becca Stevens
@revbeccastevens 

15 comments:

  1. check out our website - www.nwaprisonstories.com. we have been working with women in prison in northwest Artkansas for almost 2 years. We have just produced a hand-sewn chapbook of the women's writings to add to the staged reading of their work that we perform INSIDE the prison for the entire prison population and staff and OUTSIDE for the community. We are now funded by the Mid-America Arts Alliance and the Episcopal News Service sent Lynette Wilson (we met her at the Thistle Farms Conference) to cover our last performances. Her article is forthcoming. We would be happy to share with you our successes - both spiritual and financial - as you explore Thistle Farms from the inside out. Contact information is available on our website.

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    1. Thank you Fleming! If you want, please email shelia@thistlefarms.org and Dorinda.Carter@tn.gov and perhaps the three of you can have a conversation about this.

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  2. so moved to read about this new outreach! what a blessing to be able to change lives. I will be praying for the success of this wonderful venture and everyone involved.

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  3. Becca: My mother did a watercolor of a thistle many years ago. It is just the flower and stem on off white watercolor paper and it's simplicity is lovely. I can have color copies made on textured paper in any size you would need to sell them. Each print could be matted with shrink wrap. If you would like to see the print let me know. We could scan and email it to you. Or if you want to have me get the prints made and drop them off, let me know that. This could be used for crafts too.
    Adora Ross
    Brookmeade UCC Congregational Church

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    1. How sweet, Adora! If you want, email anna@thistlefarms.org. She runs our paper studio and may be able to work with you on the piece. Many blessings.

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  4. thank you for the wonderful work you do . what can we that live far away do to help the cause?

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    1. Thank you Sherry! You can like & follow us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and share our mission with others.

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  5. Blown away by how God speaks and moves us where we need to be. Becca, you are an inspiration by your listening ears. Awareness, acceptance, action. Prayers for this next step.

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  6. lynne.mcfarland@vanderbilt.eduDecember 6, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    don't know if you are talking about arts/crafts that could be made by the Women of Magdalene on the Inside, but I was moved by the drawing of the thistle...how about renderings of the principles of community (Walk Behind, Unite Sexuality with Spirituality, etc) each one beautifully written out and frameable to sell...using Thistle paper of course! Sort of Etsy-ish. Lynne McFarland

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    1. Great idea, Lynne! If you want to contact the head of our paper department, feel free to do so to share ideas: anna@thistlefarms.org and penny@thistlefarms.org.

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  7. Thank you so much Cindy. We are grateful to you.

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  8. What a gracious offer, Adora, thank you. If you would be willing to email, mail or drop off a print we'd love to have one! The address is 5122...., put it in care of Marlei Olson. Or you can email to marlei@thistlefarms.org. Thank you for thinking of us!

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  9. I would be open to doing some art/craft workshops with the women of Thistle Farms inside or out. I am an artist and creative fitness coach. I coach Collage workshops and Painting workshops which are typically 2 hrs. long. I could also design a format that could be followed online and/or as a file that can be printed and done in steps as time allowed. Y'all may be familiar with Creative Fitness as it began in East Nashville. I think the women could sell their paintings and prints of paintings and also use in a book or on tshirts - etc.- with their other inspirations. Painting and collage is very therapeutic.
    Love Heals,
    Susan Carter, marksthatspark@gmail.com
    http://marksthatspark.wix.com/express-yourself

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    1. That is so generous, Susan. If you would, contact our volunteer coordinator, Stacye, at stacye@thistlefarms.org and she can tell you how you can connect.

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