Our CEO, Jennifer Lopez reflects on a recent retreat with Susan Burton and the S.A.F.E. Housing community.

“Imagine a multidimensional spider’s web in the early morning covered with dew drops.  And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops.  And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection.  And so, ad infinitum.  That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image.”  – Alan Watts

I traveled to Big Bear Lake, California for a wellness retreat with the S.A.F.E. (Sisterhood Alliance for Freedom and Equality) House network early last month.  NIA House, our Friends Association program for women impacted by incarceration, is a S.A.F.E. home.  Susan Burton, our founder, gathered us from across the country and the world to be in community, to form a sisterhood-drops of morning dew shimmering on this web of her creation.  Susan is like the mythological  Spider Grandmother a wisdom keeper, bringing light to the people, a mother to humankind, protecting and nurturing us, guiding us along our paths, connecting us.

We learned we laughed, we cried, we breathed in the shimmering beauty reflected in each other and our interwoven connection and reflection with every other being, especially the women we serve in our SAFE Homes and those still waiting to be free.

I am not a formerly incarcerated woman-I am not a woman of color- I cannot begin to fathom the experience of the intersection of the circumstance with the identity.  I listened, and my soul felt the sacredness of being in their presence and bearing witness to the experiences and stories.  Susan gifted us several books including Black Girl Magic, A Poem by Mahogany L. BrowneWhat I saw at that retreat was magic before my very eyes-the alchemy of pain into power and beauty.

by Jennifer Lopez, CEO of Friends Association for Care and Protection of Children