“Women are spinners and weavers; we are the ones who spin the threads and weave them into meaning and pattern. Like silkworms, we create those threads out of our own substance, pulling the strong fine fibres, out of our own hearts and wombs.”Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted, 2016
Gently teasing threads to weave together this week’s post, most vivid are my impressions from the deeply soulful virtual spaces in which I’ve been sitting this month. To name a few:
- The monthly Poets Corner Sunday gathering featured Ellen Goldsmith and Lynne Ellis reading several of their poems for healing;
- “Chai, Love and Prayer,” monthly space hosted by my friend and Sufi scholar, Omid Safi;
- A masterfully facilitated introductory meeting for thirty women each writing a chapter in an anthology on women leaders in education;
- A consultation with our local library’s new writer-in-residence, Rayanne Haines, to help me understand judges’ feedback on several poetry submissions;
- A book salon on Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass hosted by educational leader, instructor and friend, Kathy Toogood;
- “Reawaken the Joy, Meaning and Sacredness of Being Alive” – a conversation between authors Sue Monk Kidd and Terry Helwig on Terry’s newest book, Shifting Shorelines: Messages from a Wiser Self;
- My bi-weekly women’s circle;
- A brief exploration of the wisdom of Mary and the sacred feminine presented by a favourite teacher-writer, Christine Valters Paintner, over at the Wild Luminaries series from Seminary of the Wild.
Spinning together these threads, the pattern emerging is my noticing how, in each gathering, women figured predominantly as sources of inspiration and wisdom – either in founding and-or hosting the groups and conversations, or in presenting, writing, teaching, sharing. Noticing how they, their process, and their offerings to the world, reflect and embody qualities of the sacred feminine as described by Christine Valters Paintner:
- following intuition
- attending to synchronicity
- listening deeply to the natural world
- surrendering striving
- trusting the wisdom of underworld of shadow
- honouring vulnerability as strength
- embracing slowness and spaciousness
- valuing being over doing
Struck by the conversation between Sue Monk Kidd and Terry Helwig – long-time friends and supports to each other’s writing – each described how shedding what no longer matters, simplicity, and literally driving in the slow lane to avoid the felt obligation of rush, make it easier to see, hear and embrace what matters now. How women make each other braver to follow their intuition, honour their vulnerability, do their inner shadow work.
“I think midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear:
‘I’m not screwing around. It’s time. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go.’
Time is growing short. There are unexplored adventures ahead of you. You can’t live the rest of your life worried about what other people think.”Brene Brown
In her words written and spoken, Robin Wall Kimmerer poetically teaches students and her readers how to listen deeply to the natural world, to appreciate indigenous world views and the truth in “all my relations.” Echoed in our book salon conversation, rich in individual perspectives, impressions, and associations, I came away with deepened regard and much deeper regret for all that had been taken away and lost through the colonization and residential schooling of our First Peoples.
“It’s time to make some new threads; time to strengthen the frayed wild edges of our own being, and then weave ourselves back into the fabric of our culture. Once we knew the patterns for weaving the world; we can piece them together again.”Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted, 2016
On Saturday I woke to an email announcing that my ekphrastic poem written in response to a track from an electronic music album had been accepted for its anthology. For payment! With a contract coming! The feedback and edits from my writer-in-residence were terrific, just what I need to help this self-taught poet-in-process develop, and realize my innovative contribution to the leadership anthology: “poetic” process observation-recordings of our meetings, and synthesizing chapters into poetic “pauses” to introduce or close chapter sections.
Right about now, two years ago, we were getting ready to leave for a winter sojourn in southern Spain. A couple of weeks, mid to late February, travelling by bus and train through Andalusia – Sevilla, Aracena, Cordoba, Granada, Malaga and then back to Sevilla. And then upon our return home, the world would change. Today, nearly two years later, unprecedented impacts from the pandemic continue to roll out like an endless line of falling dominoes.
In response to a friend’s blog last week, I wrote “this seems to be the time and the place where the art, the poem, the story, the prayer, the silence, the conversation, the thank you, the kiss, the embrace may comfort, soothe, sustain and help us find our way.”
“Women can heal the Wasteland.Sharon Blackie, If Women Rose Rooted, 2016
We can remake the world.
This is what women do.
This is our work.”
And so we do, as we do.
Much love and kindest regards, dear friends.