Finding comfort with needles in basements might make you think of an episode in The Wire. But here’s a real story that puts a different twist on “needles in basements” here in Baltimore …

A quiet circle gathered around the light of a candle, in the basement of a building on Chase Street in east Baltimore. Some folks were retired; some, residents of north Baltimore. Others were full-time seekers, navigating their way out of the darkness of homelessness and addiction. All were women.

Weeks before, they had gathered together around candlelight and shared what caused them to feel worried, anxious and stressed. Concern about loved ones was a common refrain; anxiety about the unknown, another.

But on this particular Thursday afternoon, they came not so much to share their worries, but to find comfort and a sense of peace.

A local acupuncturist had been invited, so each woman in the circle could experience the benefits of her ancient healing practice; acupuncture uses extremely fine needles (about the thickness of 2 human hairs) inserted at specific points in the body to release and unblock our bodies’ vital energy or “chi”.

For many in the circle, this was a new experience. Some were afraid and found courage and support among the others who were willing to try. One in the circle declined, and was supported in her decision.

The healer took time with each woman in the circle to listen to her needs, before placing the needles. Reflecting back on the experience, one woman remembers “feeling the calming presence in the room as we all settled into silence for about 30 minutes … and then the animated conversation [afterwards] as everyone discussed how it made them feel: energized, stress-free, peaceful.”

Another woman writes: “For me the overwhelming sense of oneness with the women and the holy spirit washed over us as we sat together.  To hear one of the women say that she had not felt so relaxed in five years brought tears to our eyes.  Soul met soul, heart met heart in a holy space that day.”

Next Thursday they will gather in that same basement again, this time with sewing needles, to stuff and finish off pre-stitched pillows they will give to preemies in the NICU of a local hospital.

Healing and peace, comfort and hope, a circle of women, with needles in a basement.


Want to learn more about our ministry and partnership with the new Women’s Center at Helping Up Mission? Email Nancy Bowen  or Karen McGee.