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  • Writer's pictureDavid Carlson

850: We have to do small things and believe a big difference is coming

Day 850 July 14, 2022

We have to do small things and believe a big difference is coming.

Starting Small

Episcopal priest Becca Stevens is founder of Thistle Farms, a social enterprise run by survivors of sexual abuse, trafficking, and addiction. We share part of her story:

My mother’s example of showing love through practical means gave me the wherewithal to open a home for women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction more than twenty-five years ago in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a small house for five women. I said: “Come live free for two years with no authority living with you. Live free.” . . . I figured that’s what I would want if I were coming in off the streets or out of prison. . . . I did it because sanctuary is the most practical ideal of all.

I wasn’t interested in repackaging charity in shiny, new boxes with the latest words. I was bored by trendy cause-hawking that left me feeling disconnected. I was disillusioned by a bifurcated political system that numbs compassion. I wanted to do the work of healing from the inside out. And that begins with a safe home. . . .

From its humble beginning, Thistle Farms now has thirty global partners that employ more than 1,600 women. . . . The mission to be a global movement for women’s freedom is broad and is growing exponentially.

Rev. Stevens’s mission reminds us of Jesus’ parable (Luke 13:18–19) about the kingdom of God and a mustard seed’s growth from tiny plant to large tree:

Initially, it seemed a bit ridiculous to me to think that by starting a small community, we could somehow change the world, but now, it seems more ridiculous to me to think that somehow the world will change if we don’t do something.

Now, I can see that one loving gesture is practically divine. We have to do small things and believe a big difference is coming. It’s like the miraculous drops of water that seep through mountain limestone. They gather themselves into springs that flow into creeks that merge into rivers that find their way to oceans. Our work is to envision the drops as oceans. We do our small parts and know a powerful ocean of love and compassion is downstream. Each small gesture can lead to liberation. The bravest thing we can do in this world is not cling to old ideas or fear of judgment, but step out and just do something for love’s sake. . . .

There is no secret formula to experiencing the sacred in our lives. It just takes practice and practicality. The deep truth of our lives and the fullness we are striving for don’t happen with someone giving us the code to deep knowledge. Meaning and faith are not secret things. Sometimes what we need most is to remind one another of how the divine is all around us, calling us to see and taste it for ourselves.

Becca Stevens, Practically Divine (Nashville, TN: Harper Horizon, 2021), xv–xviii.

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