24 March 2009

Book Review: Find Your Way Home

“It is not a problem to be lost. It is only a problem if you think it is impossible to find your way home.”

~ From Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart

One of the things I most love about my work empowering and encouraging women and girls is listening to their stories. Stories are a time-honored tradition that calls us to a basis truth which moves us forward to healing and wholeness. The stories are told in the context of the community and it is the community that loves them back into wholeness. Such a community is Magdalene, a two-year residential community for women who have overcome lives of prostitution, violence, drugs and abuse. The women’s stories are a testament to love in action.

Founded by Rev. Becca Stevens, and inspired to live by the classic Benedictine Rule, Magdalene was founded not just to help a sub-culture of women, but to change the culture itself. The women are welcomed at Magdalene with a key – a symbol of trust and hospitality. In reading the women’s stories, I believe that healing begins with a key. Coming from the streets, any street can be a cold, dark, and lonely street, especially when you are at the end of the road. So often we take for granted our own warm homes and our own keys. We tend to overlook a warm smile, a tender hug, or a civil gesture. We pass a woman on the street with a criticism in our heart and a judgment on our tongue. Walk a mile in their shoes, as the saying goes; and then share their stories.

Find Your Way Home is where we can begin to walk that mile. This small but profound book, written collectively by the residents, staff and volunteers, contains 24 principles of healing; stories of loss, grief, self-deceit, and life without keys. There was no hospitality for these women on the streets. Yet, from the darkness of the cold streets comes wisdom, a wisdom only these women can share. Reading this book, I could feel the transformation through the pages, moving from darkness to light.

So often, I often hear others say, “there but for the grace of God go I,” as if to exonerate ourselves from the pain of truth. Then I read,

“Instead of saying, ‘There but for the grace of God go I,’ we say, ‘There goes God.’ It reminds us of the truth that in loving our neighbors we are meeting God.”

When we can implant this message within our hearts, all the stories shared will have reached their heights.

My invitation to you is to purchase this little book for yourself and for someone you know who may be hurting. The proceeds not only help continue the marvelous work of this community, but it spreads seeds of love and hospitality. Along with the book, give them a smile and maybe a much needed hug. And while your hearts are full and opened, visit Thistle Farms, a non-profit business operated by the women of Magdalene, where they create handmade, natural and eco-friendly bath and body products. The women gain much needed job skills, learn responsibility and cooperation, as well as help continue to support the community.

Also, visit the newly launched blog of Thistle Farms, where love heals.

Plant seeds... spread hope... give love...

Coach Carolyn

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