Sunday, September 24, 2006

Seasons of Friendship

The women's retreat I attended today was really wonderful. Lead by Marjory Zoet Bankson, the retreat was entitled "Seasons of Friendship." (also the name of one of her books). The study is modeled after the story of Naomi and Ruth, who were mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Both had been widowed and were pretty much at the end of their stories, or so they thought. Ruth refused to leave her mother-in-law, Naomi and travels with her to her old home place. It's a very interesting story that can be found in the book of Ruth (a short book) in the Old Testament of the Bible.

Dr. Bankson lead us through the different seasons of friendship experienced by Naomi and Ruth, both with each other and with others. With each season she let us break into very small groups and tell of a person in our lives who fit that particular seasonal description.

I do not always enjoy things like this, being slightly self-conscious and shy, but I decided today that whatever she suggested I would do wholly. I loved every moment of it and got to know better some women I already thought I knew and even got to enjoy some time with women I had never had the chance to speak with.

It was wonderful to recall how friends were gifted to me along this journey of my life. Some people came to mind who were surprises to me. I hadn't thought of them as friends but surely they were friends for a brief moment in time. I also remembered what a friend my very own Tim was to me at a time when I wasn't really fit for friends. He didn't care. He saw beyond what I was allowing myself to become at the time. He saw a "shiny heart" (his words back then) that was hidden and blackened. He felt it just needed cleaned up. He was right. It's pretty shiny now, thanks to his encouragement which lead to other things, like going back to church and making other friends and oh so many wonderful things for which I forget all too often to be grateful.

I also thought of many of you. While we may not be able to look each other in the eye or give a hug in the flesh, you are certainly my friends and you affect my soul deeply. I am grateful for you. I am grateful for the comraderie, the encouragement, the questions that challenge me to look deeper and just the fun that we have.

Today I experienced a deepening of faith as the things we learned in the retreat seemed to bind up the various facets of my life and make them more cohesive. There has been a spirituality missing from my life that is often very difficult to find in church. That must sound odd to some, but often we (or at least *I*) focus so much on the heady stuff of scripture and tradition that I lose sight of the Holy Spirit..SPIRIT part of it all. I get hungry for it and am drawn by those who I find exhibiting its attributes. I was thrilled today to be reminded that this wonderful Spirit I am so attracted to in others is the same Holy Spirit who flows through us and guides us and expresses itself through us to one another. That's what makes friendship so important and so wonderful.

I am not trying to preach a sermon. :) I am not even talking about religion. I think the Spirit crosses many lines that we often are uncomfortable allowing it to cross. I think that we may even call this Spirit different things, yet allowing it to enter our hearts and minds is healing to our souls and brings about the same, hope and love. I am so happy to be mixed up with so many wonderful women and to witness the drawing together of souls who have been through different experiences and lead very different lives in different countries and yet come together for mutual comfort and encouragement.

I want to bring this same sense of sisterhood into my church family. I heard many voices today expressing this same hunger for deep, meaningful and intimate relationships with other women. We questioned the difficulty. How could it be so difficult? What are we missing? I hope to help answer these questions and to help build this sisterhood. It's an exciting thought and perhaps a bit of a calling.

Thank you so much my sister-friends! I hope you know how much I value you. (It's really hard to explain to non-bloggers..they sort of just looked at me like I was speaking of befriending little green men). :)

Much love and peace to you.


Lisa Oceandreamer Swifka said...

what a beautiful, heartfelt and moving post. I am so glad you went to that retreat. I think the forming of bonds between women in lasting friendship is as vital as the one we have with our significant others (whoever that may be). As we get older it's often times harder to meet, connect and bond for some reason and so to find new everlasting friendships is a great gift. I treasure the women I have already connected with through blogging, sight unseen. because the connections come from the heart and the soul FIRST. I am thankful you are among them dear Lisa.

Lisa said...

Lisa,I'm glad I decided to check in before going to bed. I will sleep a sweet sleep after reading your wonderful comment. I feel the same and my heart is all puffed up and fuzzy right now. :)

Zoanna said...

You have expressed yourself so well here, with words that I often have trouble finding. Have you read the book called Friendships of Women, by Dee Brestin? If not, it's a goodie. I'm glad I'm a woman; I can't imagine being a very good guy unless all these feelings that need a voice were stripped by at least a billion a day. My poor husband. He uses up all his before he gets home in the evening. Yes, the HOly Spirit is beautifully expressed through so many people. It's often said that the Holy Spirit is like the "mother" in the trinity. Don't think I'm a liberal, I am not, in saying this. I just see evidence of the teacher, the comforter, the gentle one, the Helper as Scripture says. Keep blogging, my new friend, and drop me a line sometime.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you had a wonderful learning time. Love your post about it. I am so glad that I found all my new friends in this blogging world.

Emma said...

Beautiful post, Lisa! You have been giving me so much to think about recently. Thank you for all your insight, and for being someone I am proud to call a friend :)


Anonymous said...

Sounds like your retreat was a really wonderful spirit-lifting experience.
I think blogging has brought back a sense of community among women that has been sadly missing the last several years. The kind of community that women once had through things like quilting bees and helping one another through and after childbirth, etc. I think women need this kind of social connection even more so than men, and I'm so glad we've found a way to bring more of it back into our lives.

Isabella in the 21st Century said...

Hi Lisa
I really enjoyed this post. I would like to ditto what Tinker said...have you read The Red Tent by Anita Daiment? It's brilliant and all about women's friendships I'm sure you'd enjoy it!

PS Even though I've never met you I can tell you've got a bright, shiny heart!

gma said...

Wonderful.So happy you made these beautiful connections. Yes spirit permeates everything....even church(teehee)
What I don't like about religion is the dogma..."you must believe what I believe or you will burn."

Connecting with spirit for me is also a connection with myself...that part of me that is connected to the whole...The sacred in the ordinary. I also treasure my friendships in bloggerland.
I used to think something was wrong with chatting on why don't those people get real friends.
Well now I know ....I do have real friends here...and we are connecting heart and soul first like Lisa said.

Vintage Wine said...

While I`m reading this text, I`m sitting here nodding my head & smiling because I understand you completely! And I agree with everything you says... You`re very good in putting into words how you feel & most of the time it also happens to be how I feel ;-)

Lisa said...

Thank you so much ladies for your kind and wonderful comments. I felt "heard." That's a good feeling. I appreciate the book recommendations. I have not read either of them. I'd heard of the Red Tent but had no idea it was about women's friendships. I was always drawn to the name of it, though. I'll be sure to read them both.

I'm sorry I'm not commenting on each one this time...I let them get away from me. :)

Miss Robyn said...

Lisa ~ you have become a special person in my life too & I understand completely about the 'not talking religion' ~ each of us here in our little blogging community are exactly the same - we are all searching, most are menopausal(some more than others) but each of us has been touched by 'the spirit' whatever you perceive that to be. oh, and each and every one of us are discovering our creative side again.
Nothing happens by accident and I believe each of you were sent into my life to help me find my soul's path. xoxo

Lisa said...

Robyn Absolutely! I am so happy that our paths have crossed.

Tongue in Cheek Antiques said...

wonderful!! thank you for putting it in words the bond we feel in blogging!