a two year residential and support community for women coming out of correctional facilities or off the street who have survived lives of abuse, prostitution or drug addiction. Begin in 1997 in Nashville TN, Magdalene offers women at no cost a safe, disciplined and compassionate community in which to recover and rebuild their lives.Two things particularly interest me about this community.
- This is not a Michael Palin “Missionary” or Lady Bountiful operation. The energy and resource come from within members themselves, released and developed in community. Thistle Farms is a business venture connected with it, but internally the strategy is not to get trained experts to engineer better outcomes, but to grow organic sustainable communities of grace, which provide a context in which members can grow and address their own particuar challenges.
- Magdalene has taken as its model the Rule of Benedict. This doesn’t mean founding a Benedictine house, but finding a way to express the base Benedictine values of conversion, stability and obedience in an authentic but accessible way for women off the streets to use as part of the process of recovering what they could be from what is sometimes the wreckage of what they have been.
Everything begins with a willingness to see others, eventually even ourselves, differently. Doing this expresses the Benedictine Value of Conversion. The call to do this reminds me of an old poem by Edward Thomas (1878-1917)
“He has robbed two clubs. The judge at SalisburyThis is the first of three posts about the core Benedictine virtues of Conversion, Stability and Obedience, reflected in the Magdalene Community of Nashville, TN.
Can't give him more than he undoubtedly
Deserves. The scoundrel! Look at his photograph!
A lady-killer! Hanging's too good by half
For such as he.” So said the stranger, one
With crimes yet undiscovered or undone.
But at the inn the Gipsy dame began:
“Now he was what I call a gentleman.
He went along with Carrie, and when she
Had a baby he paid up so readily
His half a crown. Just like him. A crown'd have been
More like him. For I never knew him mean.
Oh! but he was such a nice gentleman. Oh!
Last time we met he said if me and Joe
Was anywhere near we must be sure and call.
He put his arms around our Amos all
As if he were his own son. I pray God
Save him from justice! Nicer man never trod.”
mirror photo: credit Michelle’s Photoblog