Last holiday season, I received from my dear friend, Stephanie, the gift of light. On a beautifully boxed candle read the words, Love Heals. Everything about it was arresting. Looking closer, I learned that every day for 25 years, the women who crafted this gift at Thistle Farms have lit a candle in their Nashville headquarters as a symbol of sanctuary and hope for the next woman coming off the streets. And every day, for those 25 years, women survivors have arrived to overcome and heal from systems of prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. Every day, in that community, love heals.
Stephanie had told me often about this other good friend of hers, Becca Stevens, who founded Thistle Farms. Becca had experienced the death of her father and subsequent child abuse when she was 5, and longed to open a sanctuary for survivors and a loving community. In 1997, she invited five women into a new home.
Through Becca's vision, hundreds of women have moved from harrowing exploitation to find safe and supportive housing in a two year free residential program, received medical, counseling, and trauma therapy, and found meaningful work in Thistle Farms' celebrated cafe and candle workshop.
And then, earlier this year, Becca brought a team from Thistle Farms to visit Ibu, expanding our growing community of women standing with women. I am thrilled that, out of that exchange, Ibu is now offering the Celebration Candles crafted by remarkable women in Nashville, each alive with a word carefully chosen to guide us on our way:
Hope, Gratitude, Love, Celebrate, Courage
Becca writes about how the thistle, although weedy and neglected in the alleys these women once called home, claims deep roots, and a fierce determination to bloom. I've met the women who come through her program, through her community of love. Bloom is putting it mildly. They beam like light itself.
Will you pass some of that light along in this season when we need it most? Fire. Warmth. Love that heals.
All the best,