Around three weeks ago, I was asked to read a copy of a book and “review” it here at The Chronicles. It was the first such request made of me, and I was a little flattered and a more than a little uneasy, since I have no formal training as a reviewer, or as an editor. I wasn’t afraid of being ridiculed, but I didn’t want to let anyone down, and I knew how much this book meant to those that worked on it. For awhile, I struggled over the format of my “review”, and eventually, I just elected to let the words flow and be confident that my awe and respect for the effort would be clear to the Reader.
Its funny, to me anyway, how we manage to parse, slice, bend, and compartmentalize God. Some time ago, I made my peace with the idea that God indeed exists, and I am usually hesitant to share my perspective about him/her. I don’t intend to write about that today, but I think I need to reveal the filter through which I accepted this opportunity. The boiled down version of my “belief” is that God doesn’t just exist inside each person, but that each person is simply God, manifested as an opportunity for himself to experience his own creation. To me, if imitation is indeed the sincerest form of flattery, then surely the act of actually becoming is the sincerest form of love. With the exception of the last chapter, (and I make this point not to quibble, but to at least try to remain consistent with my own beliefs) I feel that the women of Thistle Farms have produced a small book,(I actually carried it in the back pocket of my jeans on my way to sit and read it) with an immense message of transformation, hope, compassion, and love.
The book is a quick read, at least the first time. I found much more between the covers on the second and third read, though. Consider just the first word in each of the Chapters:
Every one of those words is powerful and important, no, crucial, to those seeking what I have come to believe is Grace.
Midway through the book, there is a page that carries with it a single proclamation: I am from…
I think the words written on that one page affected me the most. I too, am “from” many things, some from long ago, some from this morning, that I am grateful to be from and not “in.” I may have the message wrong, but to me, the women in the book have decided that forgiveness is immediate, and that you must extend that forgiveness to yourself first. Experience forgiveness, become forgiveness. Experience love, become love.
I’d really like to see this book made available to those who find themselves incarcerated. I’d like to see it on High School Library shelves. I’d like to see it on tables, displayed at churches everywhere. I intend to have my children read it when they get a little older. I hope that by doing so, it will let the Women of Magdalene know how much their words meant to me.
I wrote about my visit to Thistle Farms here. It was interesting to do this a bit backwards. I didn’t read the book, become interested, then visit. I visited first, then read the book. Both experiences offered much. I hope that a few others will be moved to offer these women some exposure for their collective effort, perhaps some might even be moved to get involved in some other way. I am grateful that I had this opportunity, so, to everyone at Thistle Farms, Becca, Carolyn, volunteers and staff, and, of course, to the women themselves,