Can this woman's ‘farmer’s theology’ change the world?


Sometimes creating change in the world is as simple as planting a seed and waiting for growth. That's a core belief promoted by Becca Stevens, an episcopal priest and Thistle Farms, a community of women who have survived oppression, violence, and prostitution. Thistle Farms produces quality products and runs a cafe to support the community. Becca's newest book is "Letters From The Farm: A Simple Path for a Deeper Spiritual Life," a beautiful collection of stories that promote what she calls a "farmer's theology." Here she offers a glimpse into this theology and how it can make a difference.

RNS: Let's start at the beginning. What is a “farmer's theology”? 

BS: The farm that I am describing in this book is as much a state of mind as a place. The theology of this farm is a call to a more simple and practical faith where practitioners tend the fields with a posture of gratitude. Faith within a farmer’s theology is about the daily practices of water and weeding in our corner of the vineyard. A farmer’s theology is less concerned about dogma and feels like a dogged determination to grow healthy crops that feed people’s hearts and minds. I think a farmer’s theology lives at the intersection of contemplation and justice. It can be a lonely place, but it is communal in nature.

RNS: You say that healing is the most important sacrament of the church. How so? 

RNS: Farmer's theology is grounded in the idea that love heals. Thistle Farms is centered on the belief that women survivors of trafficking and violence proclaim mercy so profoundly, that through their healing a whole community can find healing. Being a conduit of healing is tied to the church's mission to proclaim mercy, and to help the world become a place where love and justice grow.  If you think about the traditional seven sacraments of the church, to me through this work I have seen that all the sacraments are facets of healing, offered in different ways at different times to a community that is longing to feel the healing power of love.

RNS: Talk about why you chose the thistle to be your symbol?