Reviewer Judith Wright Favor is an elder member of Claremont Monthly, Southern California Quarterly, and Pacific Yearly Meetings. Her latest publication is the Pendle Hill pamphlet: Friending Rosie on Death Row.
September 30 – October 2, 2022
Experience a weekend of quiet in the beauty of the Redwoods. Silence can soothe our bodies and minds in order to better attend to the longings of our souls. To nurture the silence, optional activities will be offered including meditative writing, soul collage, walking meditation in nature, and healing meditation. There will also be opening and closing worship sharing and Meetings for Worship. This retreat is for first timers as well as those who have participated in many silent retreats.
“Sacred places have constancy in them…because we, who worship in them, imbue them with our lives, our hopes, and our concerns. ..Many of us have favorite places where we sit, where friendship with God and each other is brought to mind and heart….where our souls are remembered into presence and service.”
(4–5) Gunilla Norris, Cultivating Sanctuary, PHP 466
About our PROGRAM LEADERS:
Judith Wright Favor is a member of Claremont Friends Meeting who also serves Southern California Quarterly and Pacific Yearly Meeting. She taught at Claremont School of Theology and facilitated AVP workshops in California prisons. Judith’s ministry includes writing for publication, soul companionship and retreat leadership.
Judy Leshefka is a member of La Jolla Friends Meeting. She helped start the Annual Friends’ Silent Retreat which has been offered in Southern California every Labor Day weekend for the last 25 years. Silence has been her primary spiritual practice since her teenage years.
for REGISTRATION INFORMATION
watch this space and/ or our website: www.QuakerCenter.org
Friending Rosie: A Review
by Judy Lumb
(Set to be published in the upcoming August 2022 issue.)
Judith Favor is an author and frequent contributor to What Canst Thou Say? You may have seen recent practical books on Sabbath Economics, or her novel, The Beacons of Larkin Street. Friending Rosie is about finding truth on death row. It first appeared as a book, alternating writings by Friend Judith and the inmate with whom she began corresponding in 2000. It also includes some of Rosie’s art.
Friend Judith begins by commenting that modern social media have turned “friend” into a verb, which she did way back in the 1960s and now reclaims in the title. With encouragement from members of Quakers United in Publishing (QUIP), Judith later condensed her Quaker testimony into a Pendle Hill Pamphlet.
“Rosie’s words and mine have come together in these pages to make a larger story. The practice of rereading brought out themes, like becoming better women. When we keep moving through the written word, hearing and seeing it again, we are likely to notice things we didn’t see or hear the first time.”
Rosie writes, “Here’s my Serenity Prayer: God grant me the forgiveness for committing murder … The strength to one day forgive myself before I go insane or die … And the wisdom, no matter what, to realize and accept that I am and can be a better woman. Help me. Amen.”
As with her other books, I found Friending Rosie a compelling read. The personalities of both authors come shining through. Here is truth in a poignant form: “Whenever we speak truth, or write truth, or hear truth, a kind of internal yes occurs. The chest may expand. The face may light up. Tears may well up in our eyes. We may tip our head back for a moment and press our eyes shut. Perhaps we place a hand on our chest or form our fingers into a steeple and press them to our lips. Our shoulders may lift and straighten. If someone is near, we may move closer to them, reach out for a hug or lay a hand on their back or shoulder. The Truth receiver in us senses the presence of the platinum thread and wants to savor the moment.
“The breath gathers in each new truth and lets it out. Ah Yes. This is true. There is a feeling of rightness. Some mysterious bodily sense lets us know when the right words do come, words we can trust.” – Judith Favor, Friending Rosie.
Appendices provide useful information on Restoration and ways to support women prisoners.
Judy Lumb is a member of the What Canst Thou Say? editorial team.
She is a member of both Atlanta Friends Meeting and the Belize Friends Church.
She splits her time between Barranco, Belize, and Atlanta Georgia.
Thursday, August 04
– Friday, August 26
- What do you want your legacy to be?
- What are the foundations of your life choices?
- What do you need to produce an effective set of documents?
This new program, designed by Judith Favor, a Discovery Writing guide for more than 50 years — will consist of Zoom meetings bookending every emailed session, before and after. You will discover how to pass your values, principles, practices, and stories on to your loved ones and future generations. Thus far, Judith has led three other writing programs for Spirituality & Practice: “As It Is: Spiritual Journaling”; “Contemplative Writing and Listening”; and “Composing Your Spiritual Memoir.”
“I love to help people find and express their true voice through contemplative writing. I love guiding people ‘in and down’ to uncover fresh new truths and form surprising new connections. I offer inventive exercises and prompts to bring out surprises percolating beneath the surface. Skilled writers and shy writers are equally welcome because I emphasize process more than product.”
The Discovery Writing approach is well suited to writing an ethical will. Usually written in a letter form, an ethical will consists of:
- meaningful personal & family stories
- qualities & attributes you try to exhibit
- lessons you have learned over the years
- beliefs & spiritual practices
- expressions of love & gratitude
- apologies & amends
- hopes & dreams for current & future generations
- questions & guidance for others to consider
- blessings for present & future loved ones
- and anything else you would like to share
In this one-month program under Judith’s guidance, you will learn basic tools for Writing Your Ethical Will (also known as a “Legacy Letter to Loved Ones”).
Your writing will be sparked by prompts and poems, carefully curated quotations and questions, and examples from ethical wills and legacy letters penned by ordinary people throughout the ages. You’ll be encouraged to write messy rough drafts on themes from past memories, present practices, and future hopes and blessings. Weekly writing will help you will find your voice. You’ll be encouraged to express what you cherish in everyday words, not fancy language or legalese.
You will also have access to an online Practice Circle. This for posting excerpts from your writing, which Judith and other participants can read and offer supportive comments.
During Zoom meetings, at the beginning and end of the month, you will have more opportunities to share your legacy writing and be inspired by the writing of others.
- August 4, 2022: introductory email
- August 5, from 12 – 3 pm PDT, we will meet on Zoom for talks about key themes, do some short writing, and meet in triads to hear emerging thoughts from each other. Zoom gatherings will be recorded, so if you have to miss any or some, you can catch up later.
- On Thursdays, August 11, 18, and 25, you will receive emails with a range of examples of ethical wills and legacy letters penned by ordinary people throughout the ages. Past, present, and future themes will be highlighted in these excerpts to help you articulate what matters most to you, what loved ones mean to you, and how you want to be remembered.
- On Friday, August 26, we will meet again on Zoom and you will practice how to organize what you’ve composed over the month, and break again into triads. You will learn how to review and renew your ethical will in years to come. This Zoom gathering will also be recorded.
A Personal Word from Judith Favor:
I am an octogenarian who has been guiding contemplative writing classes and retreats since the 1970s. Dr. Ira Progoff, Intensive Journal founder, was my first — and most influential — spiritual guide and mentor in this work. During the 1980s, Gerald May and Tilden Edwards accompanied me in learning the art of spiritual guidance. I spent hundreds of hours with these great teachers, infusing my bones with the practices and principles of contemplative listening and writing.
I was ordained in the United Church of Christ and pastored churches in San Francisco during the Nineties. For the next decade, I taught at Claremont School of Theology, and led spiritual formation programs with Stillpoint at Ghost Ranch.
After becoming a convinced Friend in 1998, I took up the ministry of writing for publication. Six of my books are out in the world, and more are in the works. All this while teaching Discovery Writing consistently brings me great joy. I love serving as mentor and midwife, bringing forth living words from writers of all ages, states and conditions.
In this course, I offer a trusting (occasionally intimate) atmosphere in which writers can feel safe and supported. I also set high standards for undivided attention, courtesy, respect and kindness.
I have found that feeling pressured often reduces honesty in writing — and honesty is essential in composing an ethical will, so I never want writers to feel stressed. Verbal sharing will be encouraged, but not expected. You may always pass if you’d rather keep something to yourself. Baring your soul does come with the territory, however. It happens naturally. I will bare my soul along the way and encourage you to risk the same when you feel ready and willing. Writing Your Ethical Will is, after all, based upon diving deep and authentically expressing your truest, most cherished values, principles, practices, and stories.
To join me and other open-hearted souls in August,
click on the Subscribe button below.
Thursday, August 4 – Friday, August 26
March 3rd, 2022
by Judith Favor, member of Claremont Friends Meeting (Quakers)
I’ll tell you four stories about Claremont people who connect interfaithfully with people in prison. But first, a note about the word religion. It originally meant “that which binds together,” but religious words can also be used to tear people apart. In Claremont, we commune freely in interfaith gatherings. We move safely between churches, mosques, meeting houses, meditation halls, sanghas and chapels, but in many places religious beliefs divide people. Religious disputes are common at the Central California Women’s Facility, where inmates from different traditions carve out little pieces of truth and hold on for dear life. What eases the pressure and brings peace? Open-hearted listening.
Rick Moore’s story comes first because he was my first mentor in the art of listening. He founded the Prison Library Project in Claremont to hear the voices of those behind bars. I met Rick in 1998, and was touched by his care for incarcerated persons. I became the second PLP volunteer, reading letters, hearing yearnings, and doing my best to meet requests for books. Many want dictionaries. Responding to handwritten letters from inmates is a low-risk form of listening. Several Pilgrim Place residents read and reply to hundreds of letters each month. The Prison Library Project needs more volunteers. Your caring attention can make a big difference.
The second story is about Claremont women. Twenty-plus years ago, I was a newly-minted Quaker, led by the Spirit to befriend a woman sentenced to die for her crime. Rosie requested pen-friends for others on death row, and Pilgrims took up the call. Gail Duggan recruited Presbyterian women to befriend women at CCWF. Carolyn Francis inspired Claremont United Methodist Church women to form a group called JUDI—“Just Do It”—to offer care, prayer and listening ears to incarcerated women. When Rev. Rosemary Davis rented a van, a bunch of us traveled to Chowchilla to visit inmates with whom we’d been corresponding. Before long, Catholic nuns started “Get On The Bus,” and Claremonters of many faiths gave up Mother’s Day weekend to accompany kids eager to share hugs, stories and games with their moms behind bars.
The third story is mine. Early in our relationship, Rosie requested Pepsi each time I visited. I chose grapefruit juice. After a decade or so, she switched from caffeinated soda to apple juice, but the rest of the routine remains the same. Female officers strip-search Rosie, then escort her to the visitor center in handcuffs and ankle chains. I wait in attorney room A or B. Once we are locked in together, she has privacy to speak her truth without being overheard. I’m a Quaker and Rosie was raised Catholic. I’m a pretty good listener, genuinely curious about what matters most to her. I don’t interrupt, don’t change the subject, and do ask open, genuine questions. Our conversations can be painful, confessional, semi-serious, silly or completely hilarious.
When we get hungry, she signals the guard to let me out. While I wait in line at the vending machines to purchase our pre-packaged lunches, Rosie sculpts brown paper napkins into the shape of roses. She sets the table with plastic forks and packets of Tabasco sauce. An armed guard lets me in, locks the door and returns to his station. I place food on the table and sit across from my friend. We bless the drinks, the burritos and the salads, then we share stories. Rosie does most of the talking. Locked up together at CCWF in Chowchilla, two women of different generations and religions celebrate prison communion with food, drink, and vulnerable conversation.
The fourth story is ours. She and I co-wrote “Friending Rosie: Respect on Death Row.” The idea came in 2019 while I was a patient at the Pilgrim Place Health Services Center. Weak from multiple fractures, struggling with rehab, I was awakened in the night and heard “Write a book with Rosie.” First I protested, then accepted the sacred call. Rosie objected to my initial proposal and refused, so I rewrote it. An “anchor committee” of Quakers helped me season it. Once Rosie and I reached common ground on the shape of the book, it took a long time to interweave her letters, my memories and the perspectives of her mother and sister.
“Friending Rosie” is a “porous” book, meant to be opened at any page by readers seeking insight or information. Our friendship story is structured around themes of faith and practice that reflect our purposes here on earth. Rosie wants to speak the truth, seek forgiveness and become a better person. My purpose is to honestly convey the little miracles that can happen spiritually when one friend is locked up and one is free. Seeing things differently, and tentatively expressing our inner truths brings both participants into sacred presence where healing and transformation take place. Prepare to be surprised—mutual gifts await!
Friending Rosie Respect on Death Row
Book Review by Jon M. Sweeney
Judith Wright Favor is a Quaker volunteer in prison ministry and a former UCC pastor and seminary professor. She has authored other books and has led programs on spiritual journaling, contemplative writing and listening, and composing a spiritual memoir for Spirituality & Practice.
Judith’s friend, Maria del Rosario Alfaro, is a mother, grandmother, artist, and California Death Row inmate. She is a first-generation American citizen, born in Anaheim to parents who came to the United States from the southwestern coast of Mexico to find jobs at Disneyland. Maria has been in prison since the age of eighteen, convicted of murder. Her life before prison was surrounded by drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution and crime, and domestic violence — and three-plus decades in prison haven’t been much better.
In Judith’s words, “This book is about friending in the Light, the art and practice of listening beyond labels for the is-ness of imprisoned persons who live under conditions of daily disrespect. It is about hearing what goes on in prison and maybe increasing your curiosity about getting to know other inmates in addition to Rosie. It is also an invitation to consider investing your own time, talent, tenderness, and treasure in reaching out to a lonely soul behind bars.”
Her hope is that you, too, may be inspired to reach out to one of the more than two million people in this country behind bars.
Judith and Maria’s relationship began by exchanging letters. Judith’s reaching out runs counter to human nature, because she says, “Humans have a long history of avoidance: we can come up with countless ways to hide unbearable truths from ourselves.” They exchanged letters and cards for twenty years. Then, a few years ago, they decided to tell their combined story in a book. Judith’s son had just died and some of the trauma of that experience was redeemed by a collaboration bringing Maria’s story to light.
Friending Rosie is not all about Rosie, and is not simply about what is happening to a woman on Death Row. The process of coauthoring a book with Maria brought up painful memories for Judith, too, from her relationships and her past. Readers of this joint memoir may have similar experiences.
Favor lives and writes in the Quaker spiritual tradition of listening, friendship, dignity, and respect. “Quaker friending is an active verb,” she explains. Later, she compares “friending” to a “steady heartbeat.” Referring to another core teaching of Quakerism she writes, “The Inner Light is the true author of this book.”
Favor explains in detail how respect is shown through the spiritual practices of showing up, self-care, expressing gratitude, deep listening, apologizing, forgiving, loving, playing fair, and trusting.
Together with Alfaro, Favor discusses images of God, and how these sometimes help, and sometimes hinder, their practice in the world. At one point, Favor explains, “The God I know is trustworthy and merciful, not the thunderous, punitive King feared by Rosie. My friend struggles mightily to trust God, self, and others because her soul was marked by persistent abuse.”
Some of the metaphors in the book become new forms of ancient spiritual practices — such as “Heartful Artfulness,” on creativity, and “Extreme Grace,” on the role human beings can and should play in each other’s lives.
with Judith Favor
January 14 – June 11, 2022
Are you ready to write a spiritual memoir?
How can you sincerely convey
your deepest faith, values, and practices?
What sort of remembrances to you want to give
to the people who matter most to you?
Are you ready to see your life through a new lens
and reveal to yourself and a caring community
the hidden parts of your wholeness?
After last year’s popular program on Contemplative Writing and Listening,
Judith Favor is back to guide you through the process of converting
the stories of your life into a spiritual memoir.
This five-month program will consist of 22 weekly emails with writing prompts and 6 monthly Zoom gatherings with teachings, guided writing practices, and listening sessions with peers.
You’ll be encouraged to choose from a palette of themes to craft your own memoir, read excerpts from published memoirs, and do meditations to support your writing.
This program is a rare opportunity to receive sturdy listening support
from peers combined with guidance from an author who has published
five memoirs in 12 years. Read more and register here:
In alternating voices, Judith Wright Favor and Rosie Alfaro take the reader on a frank, frustrating, and unforgettable journey. Friending Rosie: Respect on Death Row bridges the chasm between souls consigned to life behind bars, and souls enjoying the privileges of freedom.
Rosie’s letters from Central California Women’s Facility, interwoven with Judith’s reflections and questions, highlight perspectives from authors of different races, religions, and languages. Marginalized people stifle their stories when there is no one to hear, but mutual listening brings forth accounts of regret, doubt, humiliation, and grace. Some stories describe difficult encounters in prison. Family members with intimate knowledge of Rosie tell their stories. Other tales illustrate surprising parallels in the inner lives of both authors.
Judith follows the friendly path of Quakers who began in the 1650s to value women’s leadership and befriend prisoners. Rosie grew up Catholic, in a faith tradition that shaped her art and values. Both write stories interwoven with social challenges and spiritual practices intended to support readers in reaching out to persons behind bars.
8-12-20: “It’s yours, mine, and God’s book. I’ve been lettin people know about our book and about you. People are very interested in our story, and I know this is a start of a great journey. I’m very proud of us, friend… I wanted to tell you that to me this means nothing, but to lots of people who like crime stuff, me being the youngest and the first Latina to get the d. penalty in Calif. is a big deal. I’m personally ashamed of it, but there’s people who think it’s cool. I love you and you stay safe. Tu Amiga, Rosie”
Incarcerating our way to safety does not work. Friendships do work. These stories, rooted in caring and respect, offer a warmly satisfying testimony to the power of friending.
Click on One of these Logos to Buy Online:
Got enough money? Enough love?
Facing an uncertain future?
Sabbath Economics is the spiritual guide for you.
Loving and being loved makes everyone happier. Looking at money matters from a spiritual perspective makes everything better.
Author Judith Favor helps each of us explore how much is enough as we move forward, individually and collectively, into an uncertain future. Inland Empire member and author Judith Favor will be the…
for the High Desert Branch’s
Act 2 Zoom Meeting
to be aired on
Tuesday, October 19th at 6 pm
The public is invited to attend this free presentation.
Invitation and link may be found
by visiting www.hdcwc.com
Judith Wright Favor loves conversing with people who are interested in finding sacred possibilities in the very human tangle of personal finances and relational challenges.
She just published The Companion Journal: 52 Weeks with Love and Money for Sabbath Economics. This book is loaded with insightful questions for every day of the year, plus lively quotes to get you thinking about money and love in fresh ways. Each page has space to record your own desires, curiosities and imaginative ideas.
The Companion Journal will be there for you day and night, but money troubles can be hard to talk about. Because we are social beings and spiritual beings, it is better to explore the complexities of money and love in the company of a few good people. Who else do you want in this conversation?
Don’t miss this provocative and unusual presentation.
Contact Judith to arrange discounts so everyone in your book group, church group, or family circle can have a copy.
Buy at Powells, Barnes & Noble, Amazon or Readers Magnet.
Judith Wright Favor is the author of six nonfiction books and one novel:
Spirit Awakening (1988, out of print)
Poor Farm Tales of a Great-Grandmother (2013)
Silent Voices (2014)
The Beacons of Larkin Street (2017)
First in a trilogy honoring female church leaders
in 1970s San Francisco.
A Spiritual Guide to Linking Love with Money (2020)
52 Weeks with Love and Money, A Companion Journal (2021)
Friending Rosie: Respect on Death Row (2021)
Judith likes to quote poet Mary Oliver, who wrote:
Judith is a member of the
High Desert CWC’s
“On Topic Speakers for You”