Friday, July 20, 2007

Grrrls Gathering

See these grrrls? They rock. And there's more of 'em, too. And these pictures were taken at our spring retreat. And today I get to leave for our summer retreat. And in October we'll have a fall retreat. And well, you see how it goes. We're kinda spoiled, getting to retreat all the time like this. And we know it. And we love it. And we demand it. And our husbands have finally realized resistance is futile. We're going.

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Actually, that's not always the case. We number 11 and only 4-6 manage to make it to any given gathering, but we make it a priority, this grrl time. And the gatherings go on whether 2 or 10 can make it. We all know it's critical that they go on, and those not in attendance are held in spirit and feel content knowing the circle waits for them.

It didn't start out like this. When I originally envisioned a women's group, I dreamt big. I saw a place where women of all stripes and types could gather, feel safe, commune, bond, and share. And I still see that vision. But when I started talking it up with a few close and trusted friends, it became apparent there were several things that needed to be considered. The tighter the circle, the more 'insider' jokes and shared memories and common history. And mixing circles of friends works, if you want things light. Being a bit of a chameleon, I suddenly wasn't sure if a huge group could develop the sort of closeness I was seeking. My vision was purely selfish - I need the strength, wisdom, and energy of my grrrlfriends for my own growth, I need mentors and soul sisters and sounding boards and examples and support systems.

The big group idea will have to wait. I'm cutting my teeth on a small one, first. We came together when an extremely damaging and hurtful series of events occurred, affecting us all. But the universe is generous and the serendipitous result was a deep connection and friendship, sparked first from circumstance, carried on in love. All things happen for a reason, and we can be grateful for the nourishment that comes from composting some parts of our shared past.

We started with monthly evening gatherings, but we craved more. We travel far to be together - an evening is a tempting taste, and we seek fullness. Our weekends together are amazing. We have time to check-in, time to share, time to engage in projects, and time to nap. Our destination is chosen for its proximity, its quiet, and its beauty, and let's be honest, its frugality. Oh, and meals are provided. That's pretty darn important.

Today I'm like a jack rabbit, pouncing around my bookshelves and archives and reaching into the dusty corners of my imagination, selecting proejcts to bring, books to share, and food, always food. This time we have some creative stretching planned, the sort that involves poetry and yoga and planetary alignment influences. Should be a deliciously fun time.

And the men left behind get mindful practice in being alone, something Rob used to avoid with the same passion he harbored when he avoided every first day of every college class, the intro moment when you have to state your name and major in front of a roomful of strangers. As with public speaking, he is growing into this ability to spend large swaths of time alone, without me to whine about a messy countertop or rent the same video that plays on satellite thirteen times a day. He's gonna miss those things (she says with a smirk) but he's come to treasure the time with the boys (I encourage them to do all the things I don't like, most of which revolve around bodily noises and brain-rattling music, loud-loud car rides and opening boxes and calling it dinner), the near-quiet while the kids sleep late, and then of course, there's always the reunion. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, it's said, and what with the amount of grrrl gatherings I've enjoyed lately, we oughtta be reeeeal fond of each other about now. :)

I'm off. Woohoo!



Deborah said...

Just catching up on your blog. Is this a UU group by any chance? Sounds very UU in any case. :)

Laura said...

That's how we all met, yes, but now some of us don't attend church anymore. Doncha just love a group of UUs though? All the mingling of diversity and energy? Good stuff.

Great to see you again - I just caught up on your 'Mom on Campus' blog yesterday!