It started with an innocent comment. My girlfriend said, in the midst of an already brilliant conversation (she’s very wise), “We need to start off 2017 with a bang, put that awful 2016 behind us definitively.” (I’m paraphrasing; I am far less brilliant). I was somewhat startled initially, she’s always pretty positive. After a moment’s consideration I was surprised to think, she’s right, at least about this past fall. Lots of relatively tough days for us Floridee folk. And I thought back to another girlfriend convo I’d had the day before, where a friend shared honestly of a struggle she’s in the midst of. More brilliance (my own genius lies in filling my life with amazing people) as she spoke of her will to fight her way out. Those conversations, those thoughts, have been percolating on my back burner all day, and now that I think of it, I realize something has been unfolding before me all week…. Wait, it’s been coming on for a while now….now that I think of it, all through this fall. A fall of hurricanes and illnesses.
I can’t even say it’s been a bad season. It’s had its rough days, fo sho. I cried for three days straight going through those dang water-logged photos…. But wait, I remember how on that last day, just as I had reached a fever-pitch of hysteria, a woman I don’t know well knocked on my door to tell me of a couch that was available to replace ours… she ended up staying for a few hours, we had the best visit. I discovered that although I was without a couch and most other furniture, I had made a fantastic new friend. (Yes, it’s amazing, she’s shiny too!). My husband blew me away with his dedication to putting our home back together, working around the clock for six weeks, and he did a great job. Two crazy girlfriends broke into my home to move my car out of the way when they saw trash trucks finally come into my neighborhood during my absence. I watched my beloved community come together in significant ways, and am even prouder to call St Augustine home. SO much good came out of it all.
So yes, even as we walked through some damp days, something warm was brewing in my spirit. Something redemptive and muscular, coming to the surface now as I sit and talk with strong women, creative women, inspiring women. And yes, some of them are speaking words of hope, dreaming of new avenues of expression, even while still on the battlefield. Because that is the message of the day, that is the way through it. Whether you’ve had a tough fall or not; your time is coming. Being a part of our communal healing is the way home.
Many women seem to know this instinctively. I sat with two other friends last week in a sunny courtyard, listening as one spilled her guts about her own painful situation, non-weather related, I know you feel me. We really didn’t have any words of wisdom for her, but we sat with her in it, listening, being with her as she spoke her truth. Let me add that this is a sister who’s been through it; a beautiful younger woman, she walked in on the cane she’s been using for years now. Her words spoke of being devalued by another but her spirit shouted of her strength and her open heart within. It was an honor to sit with her, to witness her, well, the word that comes to mind is glory. There is a glory that comes with being truthful, with exposing your pain honestly to trusted friends. There is symbiotic power in that giving while trusting your pain will be answered with support, encouragement and presence. She had texted me for prayer last week as she sat outside an office waiting for battle. There is power in that trust and I felt it as I read her text, and I knew the prayer I sent up was endowed with grace birthed within. I knew that her trust had jump-started something strong in me….and on…and on.
I’m using trigger words here, I know, but I’m not talking about anything churchy or religious. I’m talking about the Love that fills and drives and infuses the universe, seen and unseen. When women come together in solidarity, with open hearts and spirits, willing to listen and share and learn from one another….. stuff happens. Healing stuff, beautiful, messy, potent, unimaginable STUFF and I want more of it. So more and more is coming into my life, like a glorious tide of discovery and beauty. I find myself in conversations with women who want to write, who are discovering painting, who want to teach others to play and dream, who care deeply for the joy of the journey, and it’s no accident. This too is my autumn; along with the hurricane and stupid cancer, there are spiritual adventures and wonder. How am I gonna complain?
Take back your rough season. Gather women around you who are ready to wake up. Maybe they don’t even know it yet, maybe they just need presence, a safe place to be real. Especially in this Christmas season, a time of year challenging for so many of us. I haven’t made it through a Christmas yet without falling apart. I have a good feeling about this one, I feel like I’ve come a long way this year. I feel more like myself. Which is not to say I won’t cry. It’s absolutely okay if I do. But I know where to find some strong sistuhs to get me through if I need ‘em. And did I mention that they’re all brilliant? Christmas peace, yall.