Thistle Farms is a sanctuary, both for residents and graduates of Thistle Farms as well as each stranger that buys a candle, shares tea at the Café, or walks through our doors in Nashville, TN. It is an honor to offer sanctuary to the stranger, to become part of each other’s journeys, and to help spread the message that Love really does Heal.
Everyday, Thistle Farms welcomes the chance to expand the circle to any individual seeking refuge, remembering that we all need a place to call home. In light of the current Syrian refugee crisis, we are reminded of the universal need for the message that Love Heals and pray that the circle will never stop growing.
As we are all seeking refuge, let us reflect on Rev. Becca Stevens’ words of compassion towards the stranger and the opportunity we have to serve:
An excerpt from “Scars,” a chapter from Funeral for a Stranger by Rev. Becca Stevens
The funeral home was on the outskirts of Nashville. It took about thirty minutes to drive there, through old, familiar streets. Memories like early-morning fog sat close by and kept me company. During the drive I thought about how many strangers there are to me in my own town. I can travel through this tiny part of the world and feel at home, connected to building and signs. But if I reflect on people, I am aware that almost all the people who live here are strangers. If I can’t love these strangers as my brothers and sisters, I will live like a stranger in my own land. Driving through the area reminded me of a nearby store where once, when I was a little girl, I couldn’t find my mother. I was scared because I didn’t know a soul around me, and so I decided to hide. I climbed into some trash cans that were stacked for sale nearby and crouched low until sometime later I heard my mother’s voice calling me, and I stood up. She asked me why I was ducking inside a trash can and pointed out that it made it much more difficult to help me. At the time I couldn’t explain it to her, but it felt safer to hide in a trash can than to be alone in the presence of strangers. I was afraid, and all I could do was trust that she would find me, no matter what.
Hiding is something all of us do when we get scared. Instead of standing out in the open and asking for help, we cover ourselves in shame and fear and wait for someone to come searching for us. Looking back, I bet there were nice folks in the store who would have helped me find my mother, but I was under some kind of red terror alert.
Feeling alone among strangers is scary. The more recent phenomenon of violence by terrorists plays on that fear, and one of its ripple effects is that we become afraid of all strangers. Instead of realizing they can help us, we lie in fear that they may approach or harm us. We teach our children to fear strangers, and yet the truth is that kids are usually hurt by someone they know. The person who will beat them, abuse them, and undermine their innocence is usually a friend or family member. When you work with women who were abused as children, you learn that part of their struggle is to recognize that those they trusted were the very people that hurt them.