We invite you to take a listen to Susannah Long's song "God of Every Woman," which she wrote as a student in last semester's Project Turn class. In Susannah's words:
"Last semester, Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women hosted a Project TURN course on Domestic Violence in the Bible at North Carolina Correctional Institute for Women. This was my second TURN class and I had felt drawn back for another semester by the simple joy of seeing my friends again; laughing and talking with these women who I would otherwise not be able to see. As a songwriter, I am constantly itching for new poetry, trying to sing the song that will be a balm on today, and I tend to do a lot of my writing in classes and meetings, where words are flying around the room just begging to be caught (and where I suppose I’m supposed to be paying attention). I spent many class sessions recording the exegesis and insights of my classmates, writing down key words and turns of phrase, hoping to put into song some of the experiences of the women in the room.
As I drafted a new hymn about the women of the bible who we discussed in the class—Hagar, Tamar, Ruth, Jephthah’s daughter, the Levite’s concubine—I felt heavy with the despair on the page. So many of these biblical women are objects, so few are narrators of their own story. That day, when the class was asked to pick a Psalm to pray corporately, one of my incarcerated classmates chose Psalm 27, an impossibly happy passage that felt incongruous with the pain discussed during the class sessions. As we read aloud: “I believe that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,” I realized that there was some sort of faithfulness in the recitation that I did not yet understand, but that my incarcerated classmates were confident as they read. I knew immediately that those words would form the refrain and transform a song of struggle into a song of praise.
Thank you, Susannah, for sharing your powerful and moving song with us all.
Project TURN is a class that has been offered at the Raleigh Unit in conjunction with Duke Divinity School and the School for Conversation since 2009. We are pleased to highlight the work of student participants that grew out of the class.
Please enjoy more of Susannah's work at:
Ministry for Women
112 S. Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27601
Copyright 2013 by Presbyterian Prison Ministry d/b/a Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women