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DSC_2249Three Circles of Women

Three days in a row I found myself sitting with three different circles of women.

We gathered around food, friendship, stories, laughter, tears, outrage, and promise.

The occasion and purpose for each circle was different, yet they shared some things in common. Conversations took turns through work, love, grief, friendship and gratitude. Each circle was marked for me by an ease of familiarity, and simple tasks of cooking and eating, and the more profound engagement of asking about and listening to each other’s lives. There were also small, nearly imperceptible, tensions that come with such honesty. Remarkable similarities really from group to group.

The striking differences of each circle are in the particularity of the persons who gathered and the very personal stories we shared. And thus the confidence we committed ourselves (implicitly and sometimes explicitly) to keep. We handed back and forth little bits and pieces of our lives. And in so doing we commit to carrying them tenderly. That’s the stuff from which trust is made.

I didn’t realize the fullness of the gift of these three gatherings of women until I was beyond them. I didn’t even realize the unusual fact that in three days running I’d been in three different groups until I thought about what to post here. Many of the circles of women I’ve been a part of over the years since college have been groups that I called together or sought out with great care and intention. In each case the last three days someone else called together and convened the group. Realizing this fact presents a tender and amazing truth of about the presence of grace in my life: I do not, in reality I cannot, force or design such grace. I can, however, welcome it. And I really, really do.

Thanks be to God.