Because I don’t have sisters, I’ve made it a point to develop friendships with women. I am blessed with many “Spirit Sisters.”
Sharon and Kathryn are two of them. We met in seminary 45 years ago and, despite living at a distance, they are among my most faithful of friends.
My son was 7 and my daughter 4 when we met. The challenges with my son were just beginning. Even though their names don’t appear in any significant way in my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, Kathryn and Sharon are in the background from pages 61 through 301.
An example of the strength of our friendship occurred during one of my most distressing trials. Unable to understand our shameful circumstances, I withdrew, stayed home, and closed the curtains on the world.
One day, Sharon and Kathryn appeared at my door. I had no choice but to let them in but I had no intention of disclosing our latest blow. I tried to make small talk, but we are not small-talk kind of people. They wouldn’t let me get away with it. It brings tears to my eyes as I write and visualize the looks of concern on their faces. They were not about to leave with no answers. They would not allow me to shut them out.
And that is just one example among many of the ways they have shown up for me through thick and thin as I dealt with my children’s undiagnosed disease … and with my ongoing saga of caregiving my daughter.
Of all my Spirit Sisters, they know better than anyone about the way I have grown through the challenges placed before me in this lifetime. They still sometimes tease me about the leaps and bounds I took in our three years together at seminary.
Sharon and Kathryn arrived on campus with their consciousness already raised about women’s issues. Kathryn, in fact, worked for the passage of the ERA and interacted with prominent Second Wave Feminists … Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Bella Abzug.
Before seminary, Sharon’s training with the United Methodist church’s US2 mission program opened her eyes to social inequities. And she was introduced to feminist writing through a women’s support group in her local church.
I, on the other hand, had been busy following a traditional path of marriage and motherhood and knew next to nothing about feminism.
The raising of my consciousness is recounted on pages 61-63 of A Long Awakening to Grace. What I said to myself as the light bulbs in my head started to flicker gives a sense of what I was up against.
Oh my gosh, could this be the reason I feel so inadequate as a woman? … Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen this before.~Linda A. Marshall quoted in A Long Awakening to Grace Page 62
Fortunately we’ve had some good times, too.
On one of our 2009 monthly calls, while I was recovering from lymphoma, I shared with them about watching Ken Burn’s PBS series on the National Parks. Wistfully, I voiced my wish for a travelling companion to be able to witness all this beauty in person.
Suddenly Kathryn said, “I’ll go with you.”
I was shocked. And then Sharon joined in, “I will, too.”
I began planning. In May, while I was still weak and bald from chemo and radiation, we traveled to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
Despite my wrecking our rental car on our way to the Phoenix airport, Kathryn and Sharon were not deterred. In 2011, we flew to Alaska. We mostly traveled by train on that trip. 🙂
We visited Sharon in Pittsburgh the summer of 2012. Then, in 2013, we flew to Denver and from there visited Arches National Park, Monument Valley, the Three Corners, Mesa Verde, Durango, and Silverton.
After reading my recent blog posts “Double Whammy” and “Perspective,” I received messages from both of them.
I want to affirm your equanimity in this situation. You certainly were emotionally jerked around yet there again was the grace with which you cooperated that allowed you not to identify with the circumstances completely. It is a balance between when to act and when to rest in the Spirit or watch some more Netflix! Your sense of humor also indicates that you can be a witness to what is happening. Thank you for your faithfulness dear friend. Love, K~Kathryn Damiano … she’s a spiritual director and that shines through in this message.
You are amazing Linda. So committed to your journey! Love you.~Sharon Everhart
They know better than most how far I’ve come and the growth challenges that will probably linger until I take my last breath. Thank you, dear faithful friends, for who you are and for who I am because of you. There are not words to express how grateful I am that you continue to be part of my life.