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Book Review: Find Your Way Home

2009 March 26

I recently had the opportunity to read through Find Your Way Home: Words from the Street, Wisdom from the Heart. This short book is a collection of reflections by the women of Magdalene. Magdalene is a two-year residential community for women who have survived lives of prostitution, violence, and abuse. The community exists not just to help these women, but to change our culture that not only buys and sells women, but often rejects them as too broken to be redeemed. To this end the women of Magdalene live by a disciplined order – a rule for living in community. The twenty-four principles of this rule are what the women of Magdalene reflected on as they contributed their stories and meditations.

The pervasive theme in the book is the power of love to bring about healing. Over and over the women confess that they had never felt loved or accepted by anyone until they came to the Magdalene community. This love is demonstrated in the principles of their order. One rule is that of proclaiming original grace – to look at each person’s journey beginning not with original sin but with original grace. The community uses the thistle as a symbol of this love. Generally seen as an unwanted weed, it is the one flower that grows on the streets where these women walk. As one woman wrote – “there were no weeds in Eden. Even the thistle was loved by God. I can see life in a thistle and how God created life in me.” (p.68)

Too often in the church we despise women who have lived lives like the women at Magdalene. Our fascination with sexual sin forces us to otherize even those who have been abused sexually. Our rejection and inability to offer unconditionally healing love though objectifies these women just as much as those who buy and sell her. I was touched to read how the simple acts of the Magdalene community connected with the hurt and broken women. For some it was the offer of a meal or a bag of toiletries, for others a living room with soft chairs or a kitchen with pots and pans, for others it was someone being willing to brush the knots out of their hair. It took some of these women years and multiple attempts to accept the healing offered to them, but they were never given up on or forced to heal on a timeline. They were loved and offered the benefits of community as they were – and it was that acceptance that made the difference in the long run.

The book is a quick read, but it has lasting impact as the stories of these women challenge the standard reaction of the church to “wayward women.” Just hearing their stories forces us to change our perspective. To move past our preoccupation with sin and respond instead with abundant grace.

Many of these women have been able to re-enter the world and develop job skills through the non-profit business Thistle Farms which makes natural bath and body products. You can follow their stories at their blog The Voices of Thistle Farms.


One Response leave one →
  1. Brenda permalink
    March 26, 2009

    For the past seven years I have been visiting the strip clubs here in Austin, Texas. I LOVE the men and women who work in the clubs. I heard about this place when I was in Nashville as an intercessor for a Passion Conference. My roommate told me about it, but forgot all about it. Wonderful to read they are still going strong.

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