|The Mystery within...|
I always look forward to my annual retreat weekend with a wonderful group of women. This year’s “Women Gathering” was again, very lightly but expertly facilitated by the incomparable team of Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak from Way of the Willow, and with assistance from a soft drummer and another’s healing touch. In reviewing this year’s instructions on what to bring, in addition to the usual journal to write in and a shawl for our “Wise Women” ceremony Saturday night, we were asked to include a stone that represented our female ancestors, and also to take some time to reflect on this year’s theme, “The Name I call Myself.” I felt some hesitancy with that assignment since Marcia is not a name I would have chosen for myself. I decided not to work too hard on that assignment after opening a Yogi tea pouch and reading the little saying at the end of the string, “Let things come to you.” It spoke to and comforted me. I let go of any anxiety for reflecting on the name I call myself.
I was amazed the majority of women in our circle also were not fond of their given names. Each woman offered different reasons from her past for why she did not like her name. Every story was unique and highlighted how truly different we all are. It helped me understand, on a whole new level, why we must come to find our own personal solutions to life’s difficulties. The energy from our sharing/listening/caring circle eventually led each of us to answers for our own struggles. For me, the weekend was a journey deep within myself, where Mystery lives both in shadow and light, and how my embrace of both brings healing.
When I put on my wise woman shawl for Saturday night’s ceremony I did feel wiser than before the retreat’s beginning. When I spoke my name, Marcia, and heard it repeated back to me by the group, it felt softer and more acceptable. This transformation came through a frustration I felt in not being able to find words to comfort my inner child. So I asked my inner child, “Why can’t I find words to comfort you?” She responded, “Because I am the one who is to comfort you. They did the best they knew how.” I now love knowing my inner child is there to help. Together we came up with our own private nickname, Sophie.
Sunday morning’s closing ceremony brought me more insight as I shared why I chose the stone I brought to represent my female ancestors. I did acknowledge I knew little of my father’s mother and only a little more of my mother’s mother, and that is where knowledge of my female ancestry ends. The stone I brought has in its center a wide spiral formed by a large fossilized snail shell. I see in that dark spiral those who have come before me and to whom I will eventually become a part. And the story of how the stone came to me was important as well. One afternoon at the beach, a man called me over to see a fossil he had just found. When I oohed and awed over the beauty of that dark spiral he said, “You can have it.” I was surprised and grateful for his gift and have come to know we are the gift to one another.
Memories of this Women Gathering retreat would be incomplete without acknowledging Kim McMillen’s deep insights in her simple book, “When I Loved Myself Enough.” On each page is one brief affirmation of a gift she received when she learned to love herself enough. During the weekend I saw how very important it is to love myself enough, both my shadow and light, because that comes before we can truly love the other.
“What if we loved our self enough, more often?”