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.