Over ten years ago, when Cody and I first moved to the area, we joined a church. A month or two after joining, the Women's Ministry hosted a weekend Ladies Retreat. I did something totally crazy. I went. I didn't know anybody. I couldn't even write down any names of people I might like to room with on the form. They just placed me in a room, and I rode up there in a car full of people I had never met. it was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.
During one of the free times they had woven into the retreat, I struck up a conversation with a woman who sat patiently sewing on a quilt. For some reason, I spilled my guts to her (tears and all), about how I had been trying to get pregnant for a year and it just wasn't happening. She listened to me and loved me. That was the beginning of a relationship where Cody and I came to be good friends with her and her husband. Later, when I did have my babies, she was right there checking on me and offering her services. She was a head nurse in the neo-natal unit of the hospital where I gave birth three times. Her husband ended up working at Cody's company for a few years. And we also became close to her son and his wife. They were our age, and we encouraged and supported them while they were missionaries in Africa. There were a lot of meals, a lot of shared experiences, and last year...Cody spoke at the funeral of the quilting woman's husband.
It all started with that one conversation at the Ladies Retreat.
And that is only one example of many bonds that were formed that weekend. It was one event. It was a risk for me as a complete newbie. It was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.
Why am telling this story? Why am I thinking about this right now? I'm in a class at church right now that is exploring community. How is community built and what is it anyway? Not only that, but I have long been pondering the state of women's relationships at my church and how with a lack of an intentional leadership the women are disconnected. Pockets of women know each other, but there is a wealth of relationship laying completely untapped. I hardly know anyone out of my age bracket. There are some amazing ladies I have not had a chance to meet.
A wealth of relationship. Laying untapped. What can be done? How can we build a community in which the older women teach the younger women, the younger women encourage the older women. How can we share the talents and gifts God has given us and build each other up during this often difficult journey called life? I think we are willing to take the risks of vulnerability...we want to know and be known. We want to be held accountable. We want to share our hearts and what really matters. I think all that may be missing is just the opportunity.
Give me a big room, where a quiet woman sits quilting and an hour to really talk with her.
Wait...you don't even have to give it to me. I'm willing to take responsibility. I'm willing to seek it out for myself. I'm eager to open up the world of possibility contained in that moment for myself, for others.