Today, I am going to be in the company of wise women. As I grow older, it is becoming more and more important that I make time for such activities.
About a year ago, a friend and I talked about our experiences as women clergy — both good and bad — but mostly about how isolating it can be. We work in solo pastorates, or in campus ministries, or in entrepreneurial ministries — and we rarely have colleagues. If we do have colleagues, they are rarely other women in ministry. We wanted to change that. We wanted to create a space to be together, to share, to love one another, to uphold each other, to be companions for each other on our respective journeys. We started by gathering monthly virtually on ‘GoToMeeting’, and are for the first time gathering together in person. I can’t wait to be in the company of wise women.
There is something very special about women’s wisdom that is often forged out of our experience of community. Women, I believe, are more communal creatures than men — we have a much more profound sense of ‘ubuntu’ (the Swahili word which means, “I am, because we are.’) Women have a sense of needing to be in the company of other women with whom we can share our joys and our struggles. We need to know that we are not alone, that the struggles we share are not new, that this too shall pass. When we come together in this way to share our hopes, our fears, our dreams and our struggles, something beautiful happens. We forge community. We are community.
If you need a community like this one, find one — or start the conversation. We need each other, and we need to remember that we are not in this life alone. We need to experience ‘ubuntu’ in the here and now. We need to be in the company of wise women.
By now many of you have heard about the storms that went through Chicagoland and much of the Great Lakes this week. Well, we were in the air on Monday night when it happened.
I’m not mad about that. I wanted to be in the air. We were flying to Chicago to look for a place to live and I had multiple appointments set up for Tuesday — starting at 9:30 am. It would have been stressful if we had not gotten here. So the stress of flying around and then landing in its wake was less stressful than having our flight cancelled. Thank you, United.
Well, to say that the flight had it’s ups and downs would be an understatement. It was bumpy. Ok, more than bumpy. We had turbulence from the time we took off until we landed.
But it gave us an occasion to make a new friend. She traded seats with a man so that he and his wife could sit together. I think it was providential.
We had a lovely visit with her — and hopefully our chat helped to keep her mind off the bumps. As we made our final approach into O’Hare however, it went from bad to worse. Lightening was flashing all around us, and I began to feel like we were on a roller coaster at Six Flags. It was not fun. I prayed. The woman next to me was shaking. I sat between her and my husband, holding both of their hands, and working at being appropriately reassuring.
I was going to entitle this post, “Holding Hands with a Stranger” but that didn’t feel quite right. We made a new friend that night. I knew that in my heart of hearts we were going to be fine — that we never would have taken off if the airline didn’t think we would be able to land safely. And our new friend found it comforting to be sitting with two pastors. The more nervous she got, the more I tried to reassure her that it was going to be fine and the harder I prayed that it would. I prayed for the pilots and the flight crew — remembering that it was Jesus who calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee.
So today I’m thankful for many things — for arriving in Chicago, for finding a new place to live, and for making a new friend. (We’re already friends on Facebook so that settles it, right?) I’m thankful for the skill of experienced airline pilots and crew, and for a faith that helps me to stay calm in the midst of storms (literally and figuratively.) And I’m thankful for stories to tell and for those who read them. Life is a journey, and I’m grateful for those with whom I get to share the ride.