November 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Barbara Belknap in Activation | Circles | Gatherings

   Earlier this month, I signed up for Christina Baldwin’s “Spirituality & Practice: Restorying Your Life” online writing course. Lessons show up in my inbox with robust titles like, “From Victim to Victor” and “The Art of Restorying-Living What is Now”. Our first task was to write a timeline of our lives.

   I attempted to start this using my Buddha Journal in a hotel room two weeks ago, but I was exhausted. My journey from Juneau, Alaska, to “Alchemy: Women of Spirit and Faith” in San Mateo, California, was a long one and my health has been lousy. Attempting a timeline of my life on an 8×4 inches piece of paper is just silly, but it illustrated (literally) the space I would need. Totally engrossed in Alchemy, I watched the lessons pile up in my iPad, and left any kind of self-imposed deadline by the wayside.

   I’ve been home a while now. All the lessons have been printed out, and are in a yellow folder in chronological order. Wednesday night, I cut five feet of newsprint paper, rolled it up, put a rubber band around it, and took it over to our son and daughter-in-law’s home. I keep the kids company (aka babysit) every Wednesday evening while our daughter-in-law is in a class and our son is bowling. Patrick and Marlena usually keep themselves occupied, so I knew I could at least get a start on my homework.

   I’m sixty-five now so I asked Marlena, who is nine, “How many sections will the Timeline need to cover my life so far?” We settled on five. Christina had said the Timeline could be done in swirls, linear sections, intersections, but whatever we decided was right would be right. How freeing. Marlena brought me a handful of her colored markers then went off to play with Callie, the Calico kitten. Patrick worked on his Lego inventions.

   With all the tools ready, I set to work. It quickly took on a life of its own. There are years of childhood, young adulthood, numerous moves, marriage, motherhood, more moves, career, ovarian cancer, and then, depleted by pain, full retirement. In 2002, I went on a quest for “What’s next?” and “What gives me energy?” I discovered PeerSpirit circle practice, community building, and, through an offhand remark during a week-long Circle Practice seminar at PeerSpirit on Whidby Island, I discovered Gather the Women Global Matrix and the power of women’s circles.

   I rolled The Timeline up and brought it home, only to unroll it immediately, and get out my own markers. Linear Thinking went out the window and Circular flew in. Thoughts came to me of the ethereal Diana Rowen, who played the harp at Alchemy. “Playing the harp” doesn’t do her justice. And there was mysterious Salima, who performed and sang the Kyrie in front of a huge screen with a rotating collage of amazing images of women from around the world, while the women in that cavernous ballroom sat mesmerized. My mind was roiling with images, thoughts of the women in my life, my dear friends in Gather the Women, and the end of my term as Matrix Convener on December 31st.

   Even after I went to bed, I kept coming up with words. Just thinking about the women I know and love in Gather the Women and my experiences at Alchemy brought out phrases like: “Red Tents for all young women!”*, “Unconditional love for our daughters and granddaughters!”, and everything that Alisa Starwether said, but especially her image of “festooning women”. Like Monarch butterflies.

   It matters that women gather together. It’s critically important for the future of the planet. Next September, Gather the Women Global Matrix will gather in Rapid City, South Dakota. Check back on this website for the exact dates, but mark your calendar now.

*”The Red Tent” by Anita Diamant

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