"Women's circles form one at a time. Each circle expands the experience of being in one to more women. Each woman in every circle who is changed by it takes this experience into her world of relationships. Until, on one fine day, a new circle will form, and it will be the millionth circle — the one that tips the scales — and brings us into the post-patriarchal human era." - Jean Shinoda Bolen
A year ago, I joined a women's retreat on Iona, Scotland. It was my first time to Iona, my second women's retreat, and an incredible experience. Beyond just the beautiful setting of this mysterious island steeped in rich spiritual history, beyond the quiet sheep and the rolling beaches and the waving grasses, there was a felt sense of community built among the seven of us who gathered there together for a few days. I was the youngest by many decades but loved the few days spent journaling, singing, dancing, meditating, and walking with wise women who had much to teach me. I remember one of them saying near the end of the retreat that I would be part of the generational transfer of the songs, the prayers, the dances that we did together. I thought, "What? No, not me. Maybe someone else."
Turns out, it's me.
A year later, I'm leading women's circles. It's not what I expected to be doing right now. I thought I'd be starting my own bakery or continuing my work in the food system non-profit world. But here I am, with a new business focused on solo and small group self-care retreats for women. Here I am with a deep longing to study and write about and speak about earth-based, feminine spirituality and divinity. Here I am leading groups of women.
Yes, these circles are by Zoom right now. They look like small groups of women coming together to talk about books that deal with themes of spirituality and patriarchy and gender roles. They look like women coming together to talk about self-care. They look like women coming together to form community and find accountability and to support one another as we all struggle to navigate these trying times (check out my new group course happening in November!)
And these circles matter. Sometimes they feel small. But then I remember that every action has energy and intention associated with it. As the smoke flows across our country from the devastating fires out West, as the flooding rages down south, as genocide by police brutality and ICE continues, as our democracy threatens to slip away, as parents struggle under impossible burdens, as hundred of thousands die in a global pandemic, where we put our energy matters. What we do with our time matters. How we show up each day matters.
All we can do is try, each moment, to do the right thing. For ourselves but also for our communities. For all beings everywhere. For the deer and the crickets and the willows. For the children. For right now. For the future.
I'm committed to keeping my eyes open to truly witness this horrific moment in history, and I'm committed to action. Part of that action is leading circles of women. Part of that action is writing. Part of that action is emailing and calling my representatives. Part of that action is joining other circles as I learn from teachers and wise ones. Part of that action is volunteering at a voter registration drive. Part of that action is walking to the river every day.
I'd love to hear from you. How are you showing up right now? Where are you finding meaning? How are you doing?