Monday, June 28, 2010

May Red Tent Memoir

" A strong woman is a woman who is straining,
A strong woman is a woman standing
on tiptoe and lifting a barbell while trying to sing Boris Godunov.
A strong woman is a woman at work
cleaning out the cesspool of the ages, and while she shovels, she talks about
how she doesn't mind crying, it opens
the ducts of the eyes, and throwing up
develops the stomach muscles, and
she goes on shoveling with tears
in her nose..."

Nearly twenty in number the women gathered with shiny faces, tender hearts, and strength beyond belief. They came for comfort; they came for counsel; they came to reflect on who they are.

"...A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ball-buster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren't you feminine, why aren't
you soft, why aren't you quiet, why
aren't you dead?..."

The women feasted on soup, and bread, and cheese, and fruit.There were teas, and herbs, and potions, honey , and chocolate.

"...A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not to be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts. People waiting for the hole
to be made say, hurry, you're so strong...."

The women wrote Six Word Memoirs, choosing carefully the words to describe themselves and/or their journeys in measured terms. Chants proclaimed connection to the universe, while an interactive people-bingo led to discoveries about others in community.

"...A strong woman is a woman bleeding
inside. A strong woman is a woman making
herself strong every morning while her teeth
loosen and her back throbs. Every baby,
a tooth, midwives used to say, and now
every battle a scar. a strong woman
is a mass of scar tissue that aches
when it rains and wounds that bleed
when you bump them and memories that get up
in the night and pace in boots to and fro..."

Working in pairs the women answered self-selected questions from a designated chakra chart. Statements were met with silent expressions of receiving, accepting, and understanding. Each woman felt "heard", in partnership, and later in whole group circle.

"...A strong woman is a woman who craves love
like oxygen or she turns blue choking.
a strong woman is a woman who loves
strongly and weeps strongly and is strongly
terrified and has strong needs. A strong woman is strong
in words, in action, in connection, in feeling;
she is not strong as a stone but as a wolf
suckling her young. strength is not in her, but she
enacts it as the wind fills a sail...."

d so the women embraced and departed, knowing that each was unique with strengths and weaknesses and valued for both. Knowing that in community we learn of others and of ourselves.Knowing that together we are beyond strong: we are invincible.

"....What comforts her is others loving
her equally for the strength and for the weakness
from which it issues, lightning from a cloud.
Lightning stuns. In rain, the clouds disperse.
Only water of connection remains,
flowing through us. Strong is what we make
each other. Until we are all strong together,
a strong woman is a woman strongly afraid."

Poem: "For Strong Women". by Marge Piercy
Summary by Danna

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