In a little over three weeks the women will be gathering. Last year, we said our long goodbyes on the shore of an exquisite turquoise lake in the mountains of California. This time, we will greet each other with warm hugs in Rapid City, South Dakota, in the Great Plains. After months of making do with hearing voices on the phone, we will recharge ourselves in person.
A few years ago, I saw a recharging station for electric cars in Seattle. It was the first time I’d seen one and I felt good just knowing it was there. Enough Seattleites were buying electric cars that there were charging stations in convenient locations around the Emerald City. I imagine our annual gathering as a Spirit Recharging Station for all of us.
Gather the Women is growing in leaps and bounds. Mary Cunningham is welcoming women from all over with open arms. Some of those new women, as well as local Rapid City women, will be at Terra Sancta. I am so looking forward to seeing my old friends, meeting our new gatherers, and getting to know more women from the Black Hills country.
I have been deeply touched by Suzan Nolan’s passion about the sanctity of the Black Hills. She called me a while back to see how I was doing, and to make sure I could come to the gathering. As she gave me a brief outline of what we’d be doing, her tone became more serious and reverential as she described the Black Hills. While South Dakota is renowned in the United States for the unfinished mountain sculpture called The Crazy Horse Memorial, Mount Rushmore, the Sturgis Bike Week, and the recent oil shale boom, Suzan instead spoke reverently of the sanctity of the land, the Black Hills country, itself.
In a National Park Service publication, “The Black Hills as Sacred Ground”, the author writes, “The Indian’s reverence for the Black Hills is very much like the feeling many people on this earth have for the Holy Land, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Mount Cavalry. The Lakota held the Black Hills as a shrine, a sanctuary for both beast and man.”
That is what I heard in Suzan’s voice, and that is why we are bringing shawls or scarves to cover our shoulders when we go there during the gathering. Just as we would in Notre Dame Cathedral or Saint Peter’s Basilica, we will show respect to this cathedral of nature. I am so looking forward to it that I already have my scarf picked out. It is cushioning my tiny treasures for the miniature altar. Many thanks to the women of Rapid City for all the preparation they are making for us. I can’t wait to be recharged.