on simply gathering

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Tonight I met with three dear friends – sisters with whom I have shared more than I could recount, with whom I have journeyed through good and through hard places. Two have recently moved cities – countries, even – and the third is leaving soon, so this was the first time we had gathered together in a long time.

As the excitement of reunion, knocking over of wine glasses through full on hugs and the essential catch-up-on-facts gave way to the rich, the this-is-where-I-truly-am, I felt my heart thaw and breathe deep. We savoured the minutes-turned-hours long after plates had been emptied and the lights dimmed. We discovered things about each other that even after all this time we didn’t know. We let our guards down and showed each other who we are, not whom it would be safe to be.

For all the ways that the world tries to tell us that women are competitive, that we are clawing away at each other in order to be better, cleverer, thinner, more capable, more powerful, more feminist, more outspoken, more gentle, more enough, we need testimonies of evenings like this. Where we see living proof that there is another way. A way in which we stand arm in arm and call out the truth of one anothers’ precious life – toasting the victories and standing-with in the uncertainties.

Evenings like this remind me of the scarcity mentality which rests like a film over our eyes, over our very lives, that there is not enough, that I must work longer, push harder, compete fiercer, fight for my place. Evenings like this remind me that there is enough. There is abundantly enough for me, and for you. I can listen without wondering when and how my voice will be heard against yours because there is space here for all of us. We are all known, we matter. There is enough.

I was acutely aware that this level of togetherness and vulnerability was hard won – won not by wielding swords, not through a fight, but by our simply showing up week after week, year after year for the ordinary ritual of gathering together.

It is so simple, and yet can be the hardest thing. In those situations which are more uncertain, in which we find ourselves out of our comfort zone. To show up at the table in those instances, when there is a risk it won’t go at all like we hope. Where we may be rejected, where we feel exhausted by the very thought because that film over our eyes convinces us that to show up means to fight, to push, to compete.

Let evenings like tonight be testament that the sweetest stories are rooted in a decision to let our guard down and simply show up. Over and over. And in doing so may we dream of bringing closer that day when the film over our eyes is blown away by the wind.

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