Patricia Lynn Reilly’s poem, “Imagine a Woman”, was written 23 years ago. Her words remind all of us, whether we are young or older, just how valuable we are and how great it is to be a woman. Even as our bodies begin to change and make us question our reasons for being here, we can reflect on what she says and reaffirm the meaning of being a woman, being a crone.
As you read her poem, find the stanza which speaks to you. I’m sure there is one which calls to you and wants to share a special meaning just for you. What are those particular words trying to tell you?
The last stanza makes me think of the women who come to the Gathering, especially as we sit in our Wisdom Circles and share our stories. Don’t we leave the Gathering valuing the women we met, and the meaning they bestow to us? Take time now to read her poem and imagine. . .
Imagine a woman who believes it is right and good she is a woman.
A woman who honors her experience and tells her stories.
Who refuses to carry the sins of others within her body and life.
Imagine a woman who believes she is good.
A woman who trusts and respects herself.
Who listens to her needs and desires, and meets them with tenderness and grace.
Imagine a woman who has acknowledged the past’s influence on the present.
A woman who has walked through her past.
Who has healed into the present.
Imagine a woman who authors her own life.
A woman who exerts, initiates, and moves on her own behalf.
Who refuses to surrender except to her truest self and to her wisest voice.
Imagine a woman who names her own gods.
A woman who imagines the divine in her image and likeness.
Who designs her own spirituality and allows it to inform her daily life.
Imagine a woman in love with her own body.
A woman who believes her body is enough, just as it is.
Who celebrates her body and its rhythms and cycles as an exquisite resource.
Imagine a woman who honors the face of the Goddess in her changing face.
A woman who celebrates the accumulation of her years and her wisdom.
Who refuses to use precious energy disguising the changes in her body and life.
Imagine a woman who values the women in her life.
A woman who sits in circles of women
Who is reminded of the truth about herself when she forgets.
IMAGINE YOURSELF AS THIS WOMAN.
–Patricia Lynn Reilly
We were camping in the woods beneath the pine trees, we’d finished our dinner and were collecting wood and scraps to light our campfire. Squirrels peered hungrily from behind the trees, sniffing out scraps of food to eat. Birds were cawing in the trees as dusk was beginning to fall. A few napkins blew off the table as the gentle breezes wafted by. We were in the meadow at Feiffer State Park in Big Sur, 6 tents 7 women, one sleeping in her truck. It was a magical gathering, as it always was each year we met. We hiked, did a full moon tour of the nearby lighthouse, walking up steep hills with the wind nearly bowling us over as the Pacific crashed her waves below. It was always an adventure, never being sure how many of us would gather, deciding what we would do, sharing food, stories, and glorious intimate tales of our lives, and the companionship rich and powerful with our fearless leader Diane always quietly taking charge.
As we prepared for the darkness soon to come, a new scent filled the air. Rain was coming. We gathered remnants of plates and utensils off the table and and began to light the fire before the skies opened, hoping that with the hanging boughs of the pines, that our fire would last a little while. We sat, sang and talked and laughed and the storm never really hit. It just seemed to blow itself by and around us.
The evening was a gift. Who knew it would be the last camping trip that Diane would get to share with us all. Six months later, she no longer walked upon this earth, but she instead walks with us in our hearts and souls where she is deeply entrenched. I feel her spirit hovering when I find myself in places that I know she would have loved and I invite her into my heart to share it for a moment.
Though there will be other camping trips and adventures I will take in the outdoors with other women or men, none will be like what I shared with Diane, but I will have the best of what I learned from her and make it my own and be eternally grateful for all the experiences, the friendships, and the adventures I had from knowing her.
I grew up on 500 rolling acres in the heart of the bluegrass….Kentucky. My grandfather had purchased a tract of land from the Shakers and passed it on to his two sons… a mistake that he remedied years later by putting the remaining land in the hands of the family Crones .. my mother and two aunts. One of those Crones was my Aunt Erma, a small wiry woman who smoked at least 10 cigarettes a day and drank bourbon as her nightcap. She lived until she was 93.
I think as a young woman, Erma had all the dreams and desires of any young woman growing up in the early 1900s. She married Fred, the banker, in her early twenties and planned for a family. That was not to be and Erma found herself a young widow when Fred died of a heart attack in his early thirties. She moved back to the farm and lived there until she was in her 80s, working as a teller at Fred’s bank and directing her nurturing nature towards her flower gardens and her nieces and nephews. She was not an easy mark … I had to work … usually pulling weeds or dusting … for the hard candy she doled out sparingly. She introduced me to my first ‘real’ book (not a Golden book) and helped me read through Pollyanna before I had even started school. In my memory, she was always quietly there, watching, protecting and sometimes chastising me for my unwashed face and shoe-less, dirty feet.
It was not until I was grown that I realized the extent of her Crone power. When her two brothers had proved themselves profligate with land and money, the newly aware grandfather charged Erma with managing the farm and she did it with an iron fist. No more land lost in poker games or given away for a case of whiskey. Allowances were meted out and Erma managed the money. She was also known to stand in between a drunken raging brother and his family, threatening him with imprisonment and homelessness if he continued his cruelty. It never came to that but behaviors changed .. at least somewhat. I suspect my mother watched her brave sister-in-law and she changed too .. growing into her own Crone power.
My mother told me once, after a trial in my own life, that I had shown courage … like Erma. It took some thinking, research and understanding before I realized the extent of Erma’s courage. As I crone, I think of her often, feeling as if she is sometimes sitting on my shoulder, reminding me to keep my face washed and for heaven’s sake, wear some shoes!
What Crones are sitting on your shoulder?
Free Time at Crones Counsel 26
Free Time Excursion: See Bellingham by bus and then dinner at an upscale restaurant. Plan now to spend Friday’s afternoon free time with more information in the August CC Newsletter. You will need to prepay through the CC website for this activity. The cost will be between $65-70. So be sure to read the details in the next newsletter.