After the gathering: “The Archaeology of Hospitality”

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I included this poem in a scrapbook created after my daughter’s rite of passage. It is by my friend, Drew Ward, and it captures so eloquently the magical richness of ruminating over gatherings and events evidenced by the artifacts of smudged glasses and dirty dishes.

As we fill up our minds and souls this National Poetry Month with good, nourishing thought-food, may we enjoy this tasty poetic appetizer on the benefits of gathering together:

The Archeology of Hospitality

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

In the early morning light

They stand on the counter like monuments to another time—

Dirty bowls,

Lip-smudged silverware,

Finger-smudged glasses.

Emptying the sink will be an excavation,

A dig through strata of tableware and cooking utensils,

Uncovering relics

Of last night’s brief backyard civilization,

Where a moonlit people

Ate and talked and worshipped,

Laughed and sang and made a world together.

They made alliances of an hour

Or of a glance

Or spanning the precarious epoch of a joke.

They participated in a rich exchange of ideas and raised eyebrows,

Trading on a wealth of possibilities,

Freely spending the currency of their lives and voices,

Investing in each other,

Creating a common market of generosity

Generated from renewable resources of broken hearts,

Passing touches

And homegrown vegetables—

They were a community.

And though I’m up to my elbows this morning in soapsuds

And the artifacts of a bygone culture,

I smile,

Knowing they are not lost—

They have merely passed out of the door,

But not out of the world.

And Tuesday another great people will arrive

To leave their own indelible mark

Scattering remnants of their habitation

On countertops and coffee tables—

Leaving us forever changed.     —Drew Ward (7/11/06)

 

Beautiful, isn’t it? . . . .

First rite of passage: reflecting your own journey – “Turn Around”

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Me, age 6.

One of the tunes I chose to share at my daughter’s first rite of passage was a real tear-jerker. I didn’t choose it for that reason. It was a song recorded by Nanci Griffith that happened to pluck at my heartstrings just at that moment, resonating with the internal music of my daughter’s coming of age. The song was “Turn Around” and I’ve included the lyrics further below.

Sometimes you need to make room for the rite of passage (your own) within the rite of passage (your child’s). Don’t negate your own feelings during this time of change. Honor them as well. As your daughter, or son, is crossing a threshold, so are you. Your shining bridge is a parallel one to theirs- equally important, equally paved with bitter and sweet. Take the time to take the time. Savor the flavors of this journey for yourself. “Turn around” for just a moment.

“Turn Around”- composed by Harry Belafonte, Alan Greene and Malvina Reynolds

Where are you goin’ my little one, little one? Where are you goin’ my baby, my own?

Turn around and you’re two

Turn around and you’re four

Turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door

Turn around, turn around, turn around and you’re a young girl going out of the door

Where are you goin’ my little one, little one? Little dirndles and petticoats, where have you gone?

Turn around and you’re tiny

Turn around and you’re grown

Turn around and you’re a young wife with babes of your own . . .

Kind of old fashioned lyrics, I know, but it spoke to some ancient mothering place inside of me . . . perhaps to you as well.

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Me, reflecting, age 47.

First rite of passage reflection: collecting rite words

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a place for inspiration: afternoon light in a chapel in Plain, WA

On my search for the “rite” words to inspire me and others on this creative journey toward a meaningful mentored celebration for my daughter, I wish I would have come across this quote by Clarissa Pinkola Estes:

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”

But I didn’t. There were pale samplings of written fare that spoke about painful rites practiced on girls over the centuries. There were interesting menstruation rituals I looked at quite shyly. And there were more luscious ceremonies like those in India where girls are given a new sari, sprinkled with fragrant water, and donned with a crown of flowers. But none of these were traditions embedded in our own experiences, our own culture (and at times, I admit I was grateful). I was looking for something not beautiful and borrowed, but something that resonated in the caverns of our own sense of places and spaces, here, where we are living.

Our culture, or at least my culture, didn’t have a precedent for rites of passage, so creating my own seemed like a good place idea. Perhaps my daughter would pass our new traditions on to her own daughter someday, and on and on until new traditions became established, familiar, even cherished ones. When you start from scratch on most anything, you have to  brush the top layers away until you get to rockbed. And rockbed for me was touched upon by asking these types of questions: what kind of gathering would allow for the sharing of stories to ease the pain of being alone in the adolescent years? what gifts of wisdom would be most worthwhile to Ginny? how can I craft an experience that allows her to walk away feeling loved, affirmed, and more clear-eyed in gazing at who she truly is? how can I provide a fun and exuberant release so our time together is not excessively heavy?

These questions and thoughts were the touchstones to ponder. They would help form the new words I’d be sculpting from. I would eventually collect and add others on: symbol, feasting, keepsake, music, blessing. I would look to these key thoughts to be my inspiration to hold closely in the desire to share extravagantly with my daughter the riches of being a woman at the nascency of this rare and precious journey.

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hand painted peace flags dancing in the wind

First rite of passage: the “Dear Diary” confessions

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Tricia’s got the “dear diary” giggles!

If you’ve been following along, you’ve probably picked up that Ginny was already a very thoughtful, mature young woman when we held this rite of passage.

That’s why I dug deep into my archives to find my diary with the cartoon of a puppy on the front and a flimsy lock, covered in I like Tim, I like Scott, I like Todd

Then I turned to what I confessed to my diary the exact week that I was the age of Ginny the week of her celebration.  I photocopied these entries, and that’s what I enclosed in her box.

At the event, I decided to do a dramatic reading for Ginny and assembled friends, directly from Dear Diary.  It turned out to be one of the times in my life when I laughed so uncontrollably that I could barely speak.  I got all red-faced and squeaky and laughed and snorted as I read aloud (for the first time ever, and with a 25 year lapse!) my own words—hilariously immature, heartbreakingly sweet, unbelievably superficial.

This was my gift to Ginny—a glimpse into a young me.  I wanted to give her this for two reasons.  One, I know she looks up to me as a wise and deep woman, and I wanted to show her that we all grow into our adult selves over time and with intention—we weren’t always that way.  Two, I wanted her to know that in all of her maturity and thoughtfulness and gracefulness, she was way ahead of the curve.  To that I was in awe and in celebration.

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Ginny enjoying her “auntie” Tricia

First rite of passage: a celebration is in order!

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moving and grooving to the likes of Celia Cruz

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Ginny and I celebrating to Squirrel Nut Zippers

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Could this be a reprisal sing-along to Dar Williams’ “As Cool As I Am”?

“Everything is created from moment to moment, always new. Like fireworks, this universe is a celebration and you are the spectator contemplating the eternal Fourth of July of your absolute splendor.” – Francis Lucille

Nice. What a good quote. It feels magical and momentous, just like a good celebration. The culmination of a rite of passage with one 14 year old girl, and 9 committed, experience-laden, long-distance-driving women had to end with an all-out doozy of a fireworks show, not literally, of course.

I tailored the celebration to what I had (let’s see, some blue and red tissue paper, some pre-used paper luminarias, twinkly lights, and who was coming: “Karmyn, could you lead us in some riotous celebratory dancing?”) and we were off! Gyrating to the Gypsy Kings, holding hands to the Tarantella, and stepping the steps of the hava nagila. Then as a culmination, we rocked out and Irish danced to a collection of Ginny’s favorites that I had put together on a c.d..

We ate, danced, and made merry. The room of celebration (which took place in my backyard) was fully regaled with women feeling the fullness of life and community. And a girl, as they danced in her honor, looked on with amazement and wonder.

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” – Ray Bradbury

 

Rite of passage licorice pizza (oh, yeah, records!): what were you spinning at 14?

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All right, all you readers, followers, and passers-by on Shining Bridges! This is your chance to share your most memorable song at age 13, 14, or 15! We’d love to hear it! Think back to those days in junior high or high school. What song made your heart beat a little faster, tickled your adolescent fancy, or felt like whenever it came on the radio, or played on your turntable or cd player it was “your song”. If you know a few of the lyrics, post those as well. I’m sure it will give some of us a knowing smile. And I’d love an explanation of what this song meant to you . . . (what fun this could be hearing from folks at home and friends from other parts of the world . . . and genders . . . yes, guys! We’d love to hear from you, too!)

And, if you’d like, include a song you know now that you would have loved to have heard at that age; perhaps it would have encouraged, motivated, or given you a new perspective on things- shifted your internal paradigm a bit and made it a bit shinier!

Bring it on! Let the sharing (and the music) begin!!

First rite of passage special post: a little musical foray

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

That first conclave of quilts and women draped around my living room did not invoke a cool deep dip in the pools of contemplation. It brought on a raucous, riotous sharing of a variety of music ranging from artists like the Indigo Girls to Marlo Thomas (yes, Marlo Thomas; do you remember the album “Free to Be You and Me”?). As I mentioned in the previous post, women could choose songs that piqued their teenage interest at age 13, 14, or 15, and/or they could choose songs that speak to them today- those tunes that would have been an important voice in their adolescent lives, if they could’ve had access to them back then.

A smattering of the offerings that first rite of passage day included songs like “Let It Be Me” by the Indigo girls (if the world is ni-ight, shine my life like a light, great song, hold up your cell phones or lighters and sway, please!), “Trouble Me” by 10,000 Maniacs (there’s more, honestly, than my sweet friend, you can see. Trust is what I’m offering if you trouble me . . .), and “As Cool As I Am” by Dar Williams (I will not be afraid of women . . . I will not be . . . afraid of women, great song with a powerful message, trust me).

Some lyrics were light-hearted, others, serious or powerful. But Ginny, getting to experience the rich explanations and stories behind these choices (after the optional sing-along portion of the program), allowed her a picture-window into the lives of these mentor-women at a time in their lives much like hers. I remember looking at Ginny’s face, noticing moments of comfort, recognition, and uncontainable glee as she watched these valued women chanting their teenage stories, no holds barred, through the vehicle of music.

And now, looking ahead to  my next post . . .  hmmmm . . . I wonder what songs were burbling in your teenage brain back in the day? . . . .  more to follow.