“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched-they must be felt with the heart.” – Helen Keller
This beautiful quote caught my eye (a little ironic considering the quote ) as I was scrolling my Facebook feed last night. I’ve always loved these words from Helen Keller and even included it in my Mistake Makers eBook a few years ago.
Yesterday, author Jeff Goins, included it in his Facebook post along with a link to his article, The Wonderful Ache of Beauty: Why We Need Art. Words like art, beauty and ache will typically pique my curiosity. So, of course, I clicked the link to check it out. It was great article about that ache you often experience when your heart collides with beautiful works of art.
Last night I woke up in the middle of the night and began thinking about yesterday morning. As many of you know, I volunteer for Second Life of Chattanooga an organization that helps to spread awareness of human trafficking in our area. January is National Human Trafficking Awareness month and, yesterday, Second Life hosted their annual event Unite. Wear White. The guest speaker this year was Becca Stevens from Thistle Farms and Magdalene.
I was first introduced to Thistle Farms and Magdalene when I heard Becca give a talk a year and a half ago in Nashville. This beautiful ministry helps to give women who have been out on the streets and trapped in a life of prostitution and human trafficking a second chance. And, as you know, I never get tired of cheerleading for second chances. At Thistle Farms, survivors are employed and create fabulous all natural candles and also bath and body products. You can learn more and support them here if you’ve never heard of it.
Anyways back to why I woke up last night and had hard time falling back to sleep. Yesterday, I heard a survivor and past resident of Magdalene share a little bit of her journey. Sheila’s story was a powerful story of redemption. After she spoke, the audience gave her a standing ovation. I had goosebumps and chills as I stood there clapping for Sheila.
When Becca took the stage she said something that stuck with me: “If you mention the word home (at Magdalene and Thistle Farms) women will weep. A home is what these women have longed for because community heals.”
Becca shared another story of a lady who came to Magdalene house after serving time in prison. She began her journey of healing and also began making candles. Because of charges still being processed through the legal system, this lady ended up having to go back to jail for 3 1/2 more years. Upon her release, she came right back to Thistle Farms and began making candles again. Becca asked her how she was able to remain hopeful after tasting freedom and healing and then having to go back to confinement. The lady told Becca that it was the first time in her life when she was behind bars and had a community of people supporting her, encouraging her, and believing in her.
As I thought more about this last night, I realized that the women of Magdalene weep at the word “home” because community, when done well, is a beautiful and powerful thing. Like Helen Keller’s quote, home isn’t necessarily a place you can see and touch, its beauty is so much bigger than that. Home means you feel loved and accepted and cared for. A true home is a place of hope. It touches your heart and your soul and you can carry it with you. That’s what I love about beauty that touches our heart…it’s portable.
I know you all might be getting sick of my obsession with the movie Shawshank Redemption but this whole idea made me think of the scene where Andy gets out of solitary confinement after his little opera music playing stunt. He survived because he carried the beauty of hope with him.
The survivor from Magdalene who had to go back to prison held on because, for the first time in her life, she had hope she could hold onto, she had a community of people who loved her and were encouraging her along the way.
Again, one of the most beautiful things about community: You carry it with you.
Last night I also thought about the Apostle Paul and all the time he spent in prison. He was one of the most hope-filled people in all of Scripture. Why? Yes, it was his faith in Christ but it was also because he had a small community of people who loved on him through the journey. Many times he would mention in his letters how much his friends encouraged him to keep going.
Community, done well, is powerful. It touch lives in ways we can’t even fathom. It offers us beauty that most of the time goes so much deeper than the visible eye can see.
Be that to someone today.