Sep 27, 2017
Hello, readers and friends of "Nowhere Else I Want to Be":
Happy Fall, everyone! I thought you’d like to know that the September issue of A&U Magazine has a lovely article about Miriam’s House, my book and me - "A Calling and More" - by Tammy Banks.
Read the first few paragraphs below, then click on the link to read the rest of the article.
For Carol Marsh, starting Miriam’s House was something that she felt called upon to do. “It felt like coming home,” she recalls, “and I think that is the hallmark of a calling.”
Marsh founded the Washington, D.C., residence for homeless women with HIV/AIDS in 1996. But in many ways, she had been moving toward this kind of work since her teen years, when she’d read Catherine Marshall’s Christy. The 1967 bestselling novel about a young school teacher doing her damnedest to bring education to children in Appalachia had fired Marsh’s imagination: She’d seen herself as being “a benevolent helper of others” and making sense of all “the cruelty and inequity” in the world. There’d been comfort in “dreaming of a life of service in which I would make things perfect for some small village or group of children. For that they would, of course, love and appreciate me.”
But the path to our true callings is seldom a straight one. We take wrong turns, get waylaid, or lose sight of where we’re headed. “I lost that vision for a while,” Marsh admits. “I moved to Washington, D. C., at thirty-five, and that’s when I reconnected with a passion that had been mine as a teenager.”
She threw herself into the work of bringing her vision of Miriam’s House to life. “We didn’t want to create a cookie-cutter program that forced women to comply or leave,” Marsh writes in her memoir Nowhere Else I Want to Be (Inkshares 2016), “so we opted for an open-to-the-possibilities, organic kind of growth that, while it achieved its goal of allowing residents to help shape this new program, also left us in chaos much of the time.” She started out “with a few rules about sobriety and violence and being able to live cooperatively in community” but soon realized that she needed to go beyond that.
For the disease was, she saw, only part of the story that each woman brought with her. The other part of the story—call it the back story or the subtext—was even more disturbing. (At Goucher College, she was, Marsh explains, encouraged to dig deeper and go “underneath the stories.”) Juanita, for instance, had begun shooting up at fourteen in an attempt to escape from a reality that included savage beatings by her own mother. Alyssa had been pimped out by a drug-addicted mother when she was twelve; despite that, she still loved and kept reaching out to the parent who never came to see her during her time at Miriam’s House.
READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE
Have a great day!