Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Best of Women at a Women's Retreat

Samaritan Woman at the Well by Giacomo Franceschini

This past weekend, I attended the women's retreat at Saint Kateri parish in Saugus. Six hours of all girls, all day.  What an excellent time!

Women, when they are being authentic to their femininity, are the coolest...creation...ever.  When God gave Adam a mate, He covered every scenario.  Compassion to sense the needs of others, whether physical, spiritual, or emotional as well as the generosity to do something about it without taking measure to make certain things are "fair".  Unbreakable loyalty. An instinct to lift people up. And on and on.  

We should already know this from looking to our role model, Mary.  Mary was a tough Jewish cookie who risked it all to say "Yes" to God. She carried heavy buckets of water from the well and stepped in mud and animal droppings to do it.  She made a long journey on a donkey while pregnant and gave birth in a cold, smelly stable. What a woman. And I met so many women at the retreat who shared her attributes: tough, feminine, generous, and filled with love for their fellow woman and for Jesus.

We enjoyed scripture readings (this retreat focused on Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well) and meditations (the Christian kind, where you fill your head with God instead of emptying it out) and the day included plenty of singing and praising God with the help of a local family band.  I especially enjoyed those moments when we talked in small groups.

I was lucky enough to sit at a table made up mostly of women I didn't know, so I had a chance to meet new friends and hear new stories about how God touches lives.

The first to arrive was a friend, the mother of two beautiful daughters who will someday grow up to be as special as their mother. There was an older lady who graduated from a music conservatory and then went on to raise five children, who then gave her ten grandchildren.  Three sisters sat next to each other (literal sisters, not just Sisters in Christ). The older two had boys who were playing a football game that day, while the youngest was an artist. They loved to attend retreats together and were so close, sharing jokes and finishing each other's sentences. Their friend joined us. A photographer by trade, she could have been her own model.

The great thing about us gals is that we don't mind crying in front of strangers. While I didn't actually sob, I did tear up as I listed to one table mate's story about the near-drowning of her daughter. She held the hands of her two sisters and cried tears of gratitude as she related the fear as well as the loving support offered by her family during the crises. A local church who saw the helicopter transport her daughter to the hospital contacted the family and offered their prayers and support. They now attend that church. That's the best conduit for the Good News--acts of love and kindness in His name.

The photographer related a terrible childbirth experience and poured out the guilt she felt because she stopped pushing during delivery and had to submit to a c-section.  If she had watched more television dramas, she would have known this exhaustion was not unusual. Recently, she has come to understand that she didn't give up; she surrendered to God.

I hope to meet these women again.  I have the photographer's business card for that moment when I'm ready to update my head shot. One sister invited me to attend the next Fish Fest (a music festival), and if Stephen Curtis Chapman is going to make an appearance, I'm there!

Women were made for a supporting role. Literally. Look at Mary. She mothered the Savior, she supported the early Church, and she lent her loving presence to those early Christians (known as The Way) to help them understand and keep them pointed toward Jesus. I can imagine what a comfort she was to those early Church members.

Women have such an abundance of warmth and understanding and they overflow with available hugs.  They can't help swooping in to lift up those who are experiencing sadness or pain. It's a gift.

Women weren't made to tear each other down. That's an affliction emphasized by the current "it's all about me" environment. They weren't made to sacrifice children and husbands to the gods of wealth and ego.

They were made to form the very foundation of society. To be the rich soil necessary to grow decent children, families and communities. To be a positive influence on their family members, younger women, schools, neighborhoods and even politicians and the press. To be role models.

Women are the coolest...creation...ever.


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