By Barbara Belknap, Matrix Convener
Regional Coordinator, Juneau, Alaska
Since our August GTW gathering in Racine, Wisconsin, I have been thinking about the value of ritual. From the very early days of Gather the Women, water has been used as a symbol for continuity. Each time we have our annual gathering, there is a water ceremony.
Women bring water from home and pour it into a bowl on the altar that anchors our circle. They say a few brief words about where the water comes from. Some women have water from the very first GTW water ceremony.
When the gathering ends, each woman takes water out of the bowl to take home with them and says a few words about how they are feeling. At our 2011 gathering, the water ritual took on even more meaning. After each of us had filled our small bottles with the Racine water, we drove to the shore of Lake Michigan with the remainder of the water.
As darkness fell over our circle, Jean Reddemann led us in a ceremony to bless the water, then she handed the large bowl to me. She and I led our circle of women to the water. Jean was so close to me that I could feel her warmth. She said a few words, and I poured the water into that enormous lake as the waves lapped against us. It was dark by then and the darkness hid the tears in my eyes. They were tears of gratitude, fullness, and deep emotion.
Ritual matters. It provides a depth and resonance that stays in our heart.