Monday, May 03, 2010
Gathering of Sisters
There is something about commitment. The feel of the ring on your finger, the heaviness and responsibility it represents. The vows that are taken. The promises that are made. The realization that for better, or for worse, there are words we have spoken which will take a lifetime to live into.
I have seven sisters. There are eight of us in this world. The number eight representing infinity. Circling endlessly. World without end. A sacred sisterhood.
We struggle with names. Are we the "homegirls?" Are we "Infinity Eight?" Are we "The Women?" We've grappled to define our connection. We have made lists of the possibilities (we always make lists, for we are very organized. And very compulsive). We are not named, officially, but we are present and attentive to one another. The sisterhood does not disappoint.
We have been together since the summer of 1994 when we joined an informal spirituality and study group to talk about issues of identity, faith, feminism. And then a few more joined us along the way. This year we celebrated our 16th anniversary.
Once a year we sneak away. Alone and together. We've traveled from far-flung locales...at times from the Netherlands, or Alaska. From California or Virginia. From Colorado and Maryland. Some of us stayed close to home and drive our trusty economy-sized cars from the tri-state areas of Michigan or Ohio or Indiana.
We have fought and we have mended. We have labored and we have rested. Collectively we've survived two divorces, cancer, the deaths of three parents, four miscarriages, and countless small and sundry losses. And we've celebrated six weddings, and five births, and the blessings of inheriting three step-daughters. We've named our fears, claimed our weaknesses, and exalted in our daily (and often minute) triumphs.
In 2002, in the wake of my divisive divorce which rocked the foundations of the group to it's core, we sat, the eight of us, for almost three days in ongoing conversation as we redefined who we were, and asked whether we could indeed grow together. The first night, I lay in the upstairs room of a quaint camel-back home in Louisville and wept as I wondered if we would weather this storm. Another sister found me and cradled me in her arms. We lay like spoons as I sobbed and shared my fears that we would all scatter to the wind. And that sweet sister assured me, "We will survive this for we are strong. And this sisterhood will remain intact."
And she was right. For the next day, we blessed the rings which we slid on our fingers to commit ourselves to one another. Rings which most of us wear every day, as true and as valid as our wedding bands.
Last night we placed those rings again in a chipped blue willow china bowl and by the light of eight candles we blessed them and recommitted ourselves to our sisterhood again.
And I remain stunned. And surrendered. For this gift of strength and resiliency is one of the purest forms of grace I have ever known. And I often wonder what I did to be worthy to wear this ring.