Religion and Ethics Newsweekly reports on the wonderful work being done at Thistle Farm, an Episcopal ministry in Nashville, Tennessee:
REV. BECCA STEVENS: I wanted to create a space that felt like it was healing and luxurious and safe and hopeful for women, so that there would be a space to feel like you could do the work and the healing that needed to happen in your life.
FAW: What Stevens created was a nonprofit organization for female addicts and prostitutes, most who have been sexually abused, all who have been raped. By hand they create natural bath and beauty products—soaps, balms, candles—all made under the label Thistle Farms.
STEVENS: The thistle is the weed or the flower, depending on your perspective, that still grows on the streets and the alleys where the women walk. It has the deepest taproot of any plant, and it can push through two, three inches of concrete. It is a great reminder that all of us, with our prickly outer selves, have this beautiful, deep, rich center that’s a gift from God.
FAW: Here they not only pick thistles but crush, moisten, soften and then turn the thistle into paper. With the products and through donations which Thistle Farms has raised, Stevens has opened a residential community of six homes where women off the streets are given rooms and food for two years at no charge. Stevens takes neither federal nor state money.
(with video at the REN site.)