Graced with Community

Community empowers us. Isolation weakens us.
Community is a critically important element in growing into
conscious elderhood and enjoying this new chapter in your life.
Conscious Living, Conscious Aging
Ron Pevny
 
“I’m amazed at the number of groups you belong to…that you find that many interesting groups in Dayton, Ohio,” my Pittsburgh friend, Sharon, said.
 
Our Wichita friend and solitude seeker, Kathryn, concurred. “I think it’s great.”
 
Sharon, Kathryn, and I met in 1975 at United Theological Seminary and soon found ourselves a part of a community of like-minded students. After graduation, we’ve maintained a long-distance friendship, considering ourselves “spirit sisters.” We connect via monthly conference calls and yearly reunions. We know each other well, having walked together through many phases in our lives. I value and am grateful for our connection.
 
Kathryn, Linda, Sharon — August 1980
 
 Linda, Sharon, Kathryn — June 2013
Three Spirit Sisters before The Three Sisters in Monument Valley
Because I am single…have so little family…writing is an isolated activity…growing older often results in isolation…and I value consciousness, I find it necessary to seek community where I live as well.
 
In earlier posts, I featured two of my communities–our Sage Sisters where we focus primarily on growing older with consciousness and our Cincinnati Writer’s where we write our reflections on growing spiritually around a variety of topics. 
 
I seem to be a groupie, though I prefer to think of myself as a people person. I’ve loved small groups since I was a young woman, maybe because I cherish hearing people’s stories. Today, I find empowerment in several. 
 
Grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze
that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others
who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful
as you are to be there.
Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Anne Lamott
 
Angel Group: I joined this intimate women’s group a little over a year ago. We meet weekly and focus on meditation, gratitude, and spirituality. We also enjoy learning new things and recently increased our understanding of ourselves and each other by studying the Enneagram, helping us grow even closer.
 
Dream Group: Dreams are often called the language of the soul. Teresa is in training to learn this special language. A few of us from the Angel Group participate to give her practice. She’s a skilled facilitator as she helps us discern the message in our dream from the “holy dream maker.”
 
 
Spirituality Forum: I found this group at our local senior citizens center. In retirement, Tom, our leader, found a passion for learning all things spiritual. We learn from the resources he brings in and from each other. What I appreciate about this diverse group is the openness and acceptance of each person’s spiritual path.
 
Spiritual Sundays: This new group meets about once a month and focuses on Integral Spirituality. We attend to our bodies, minds, and spirits through movement, meditation, identifying our growth edges, discussing a topic, and sharing a healthy meal.
 
Book Discussion: A small group of women gather about once a month or so to discuss Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This book is so deep, we read a small section and then share how we relate from our life experience. It’s a thick book, so it could take us years to get through it.
 
Hithergreen Writer’s: This group of writers from our senior citizens center comes together monthly to share our writing, support each other’s projects, and explore our next steps. 
 
What communities light up your life?
 
In what way does their electricity and juice empower you?
 

Polishing

I have never thought of  myself as a good writer.
But I’m one of the world’s great re-writers.

James A. Michener

Michener’s book, The Source, is one of my all-time favorites.
 
And Steve Berry seems to have loved him as I did, giving a wonderful introduction to Michener’s life and writing in a new edition with a lovely new cover.
 
The Source
Michener’s quote caught my attention because I’ve spent the past 2 1/2 months polishing my memoir–twice. And that involved some re-writing as well.
 
The length of time it took surprised me. I spent several hours polishing each of thirty-one chapters on the first round. The second round took less time but still a fair chunk. And being so close to readiness to send it to my beta readers, I became obsessed and hardly moved out from behind my keyboard.
 
On Friday, April 10, I sent A Long Awakening to Grace: A Mother’s Journey to five fabulous people who agreed to read and give me feedback. This is a little like leaving your baby with a sitter for the first time. A bit unnerving, I’m surprisingly calm. I’ve done the best I can and am grateful for their willingness to help me make it better. And then I’ll be re-writing again.
 
Did you notice? I’ve added a subtitle since my last post. Feedback varied. One on-line writing friend said, “I think A Long Awakening to Grace is such a lovely title that no subtitle is needed.” I loved that feedback. This title was a gift from the Universe, so how could it not be lovely? 
 
Another made the following point. “…like your subtitle very much. Subtitles help to direct expectations, identify the ‘subgenre’ of the work, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Yours helps.” So I’m adding the subtitle, A Mother’s Journey.
 
While I await my reader’s feedback, I’m grateful for Hemingway’s reminder:
 
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
Ernest Hemingway