I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride,
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
George Ella Lyon wrote those words in her poem "Where I'm From."
Jan Richardson unpacks the power of the poem in a chapter of her book In the Sanctuary of Women and then writes her own version of where she is from, who she is, what "holds her roots."
I love the image of things, people, places and experiences that hold our roots, like how these trees are doing:
My backyard happens to be full of thistles. The root system of the thistle weed is winding and complex, longing to connect.
The top part of the thistle is prickly and the stem, thorny. But if you dig your fingers into the dirt around the base of the stem and grab the first part of the root, there are no thorns. You can pinch the root and pull the whole thing out, and if you're lucky, the root will lead you to the next thistle.
Becca Stevens suggests that women are like these thistles...and no matter how thorny you get on the outside, on the inside we are smooth. We are winding and complex, longing to connect.
Becca founded the Magdalene House in Nashville (which inspired sister houses in other states), as well as Thistle Farms and Thistle Stop Cafe and Shared Trade. Her books Snake Oil and The Way of Tea and Justice are life changing. I can't get over it.
I ordered some of Thistle Farms' natural bug spray - which smells AWESOME - and took it with me to my Women's Group on Tuesday morning. We passed around the spray before we did our breathing time, and maybe because there are bugs in our meeting room, and we talked about the thistle weed.
We talked about feeling thorny on the outside, when our insides are smooth. Some of us in Group live on the street, some live indoors, some have extra lake houses. Some of us are battling addictions, some domestic violence situations, some sit in long lines at carpool. All of us are familiar with a System that doesn't always Serve. We get together once a week to remember that we are the same and say the word LOVE as much as possible within the hour. For that little bit of time, we can be smooth and connected. We are the Thistle, winding and complex, longing to connect.
Later this summer we hope to paint a mural around our meeting room walls with thistle leaves intertwined, like our very roots are hugging. Along with George Ella Lyon and Jan Richardson, we will hold each others' roots, remembering where we are from, holding hands as we get ready to see what we will become...because Love Heals Every Body, even if you are a Thistle, winding and complex, longing to connect.