January 27, 2013
To Friends Everywhere,
One hundred and thirty Women from Baltimore Yearly Meeting gathered on a cold snowy weekend in north central Maryland for our annual retreat. We meet to weave our lives together, into a tapestry that grows through the years. Some threads drop out of sight for awhile, only to show up later more vibrant, and or stronger. We know that when woven together, the threads—the individual stories of our journeys—create a thing at once beautiful, comforting and strong. we believe that your Spirit, Your Light is a part of our story as well.
During the past year, women from Friends Meeting of Washington planned this retreat around the theme of Play, Nap, Feast. Here, at Skycroft Retreat on a mountaintop in the Appalachians, we met to worship, sing, dance and play, to revitalize our spirits and renew our energy.
At our plenary on Saturday morning, four panelists shared how they find ways to replenish their souls. As they each spoke, it became apparent that their threads are interwoven with ours. Joan Anderson shared her stories of living through World War II and the Cold War, witnessing world events that touched her life. She brought to life events in the 1940’s some of us have only read about in history books. Deborah Haines shared her experience with the Bible, speaking about how she gains a deeper sense of being a part of the stream of humanity as she reads, re-reads, and weaves these stories of long ago into her spiritual life. She has learned much about the world as she realized that the Bible was not necessarily written from God’s point of view, but from the point of view of people exploring their encounters with the divine. Anna Rain shared how, after years of feeling inadequate at sports, she discovered modern dance, finding that the communion of music and physical activity “kinesthetically connected” her to Spirit. Margaret Krome-Lukens, the youngest panelist, spoke of her awareness of the “blessed unrest” that drives her, and all the work we must do if we are to heal our planet. She contrasted the “vacationland of self-care” we in America use to escape from stress and responsibilities, and the self-care that nourishes us through connection and vulnerability. She spoke of her own struggles with darkness, and the blessing of letting the walls down, so that energy and light can flow freely among us. The panel helped us open to new understandings of ourselves and our place in the fabric of humanity. As Joan said, “my story is your story.” We know that many women around the world–locally, nationally, and internationally—spend their lives trying to fulfill the needs of others with far fewer resources than many of we BYM women may have.
We who gather here together have many different needs and gifts. We are wounded souls, comforters, mentors, creators, healers, weavers, seekers. We realize that the ability to gather with each other is a blessing. We are mindful and deeply appreciative of the women among us who bring concerns each year for us to hold in the Light and act upon. Some Friends gathered throughout the weekend to consider the film “Half the Sky,” which documents the work of individual women organizing actions to halt violence against girls and women in their communities. Others met to consider what we can do as Quaker Women to add our voices to the outcry against gun violence here in the United States.
Gathered on this mountaintop, we strengthen each other and ourselves, so we can continue to weave the tapestry of our lives and witness in the world. We have been nurtured by song and dance, tears and laughter, conversations and waiting worship, learning and teaching, creating and listening. We know that as Quaker Women we have much wisdom in the Spirit to share, and act upon. Though we are only individual threads in the tapestry, there is a divine energy that weaves us into a pattern beautiful beyond our understanding. We see women everywhere lifting up a new vision of what the world could be. We long to hear your stories, so that we may be woven together.