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? . . . .

A first rite of passage: gathering the women

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three generations of “us”- Ginny, mom, and me

I want to lay down some history here. The story of creating a first rite of passage for my 14 year old daughter has a long and rich beginning, so I’ve decided to spend the first 8 or so posts breaking it into bite sized pieces. Taste and enjoy!

Who to pick? Who to pick? So many lovely, intelligent, wise women. Who to pick? Who to pick? So many interesting, fun-loving, enlivening, historied women. Who to pick? It was Ginny’s first rite of passage (and mine as well), and the criteria was slowly starting to form in my mind.

  • She has to be somebody Ginny enjoys as a person.
  • She has to be somebody Ginny looks up to in some way, conventionally, or unconventionally.
  • She has to be someone that Ginny could learn something from.
  • She has to be someone who loves Ginny- who really loves Ginny.

There were women who could fill out that list from so many places: close family, long time friends, spiritual mentors, women from our arts group, etc., but I wanted to limit myself to 9, including me. Not all the juicy, wonderful women I knew could participate in this round, but I knew that these amazing women in Ginny’s life could be included in another way that she would also deeply cherish (coming up in an upcoming blog entry!)

So I began with choosing my mother. Having the three generations of Cornett/Mammano/Schneider girls, growing together from the same family tree, all together at this event would be very special. And feeling held by her closest predecessors, would be a kind and loving act. I next thought of Ginny’s godmother, Tricia. She knew Ginny while I was housing her in my maternity clothes, she carted her in a backpack around Victoria, BC at 8 months, and she had been rooting for her with so much vigor and intention throughout her growing years. My thoughts then went to Sharon. Dear, dear friend who knew how to live out intellect, playfulness, and soulfulness, and had done just that in Ginny’s presence. Karmyn was always a favorite with both of my children. She knew how to embrace life with all of the joy, energy, and enthusiasm a human being could muster. She would definitely teach Ginny something valuable.

Her “Auntie Maril,” an honorary aunt in our little world embodied place, grace, and a combination of refinement and homespun beauty. She was a woman who was often an encouragement and a comfort in our lives. Next was Nancy. Through Montage, an artist’s group I have been a part of for nearly two decades, Ginny had been exposed to the incredible beauty, love, and wisdom of Nancy and her husband, Drew. She admired Nancy’s skill and creativity and would enjoy having her as part of this gathering. And last, but definitely not least, our friend and a-couple-of-neighborhoods away neighbor, Valerie. At the time, Valerie was somewhat of a newcomer in our lives, but I had known since the moment I met her that she was quality. She was a bright, funny, strong woman- an inspiration and a voracious reader! I now had my nine . . . I just had to ask them . . .

A welcome and a warm hello

a cup of tea in the room of stories

a cup of tea in the room of stories

My girl was turning 14. I looked up “rite of passage for women” online and got various stories of female circumcision and menstruation rites. With my nose crinkled, and the bottom falling out of my parental heart cavity, I knew I wanted something different than these options- something beautiful, something meaningful, something indelible. Shouldn’t every child have the chance to go through puberty with a bridge intact and shining adults holding hands on either side of it singing them into adulthood? Yes, my heart pumped, every child should.

Shining adults. I knew so many. My mom was one, kneeling at the side of my bed since childhood, ushering me into the world of spirit, praying in the darkness, while my eyes swirled in my head searching for connection to the otherworld. My good friend, Tricia was another. A pillar in my daughter’s life since birth. The one woman who took a stand to fight for dignity and freedom in my life when dignity and freedom were not a part of our family structure. My friend, Sharon would be another. Solid soul of commitment and questions. A beauty forging through the dusty paths of difficulty with at times, murky direction.  Nancy could be a third. Artist extraordinaire.  A sculptor from scraps. Her craft boasting both a method and a life lesson.

The list was filling out. But so many could have fit the bill: Karmyn, Maril, Valerie . . . . Each possible person could have filled it with a contribution, a purpose, a message, a gift they bring to this life. If it weren’t sculpting or praying or rescuing, it would be letter-writing or storytelling, or quilt-making. Each person has a part to play on the shining bridge . . .

which is why I’m choosing to write this blog.

I hope to::

  • explore the rich possibilities of rites of passage for girls
  • share life affirming examples from close at home and far way
  • provide a meeting place for ideas and encouragement in creating your own original celebrations

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m glad you’re here! I treasure every comment and look forward to responding to each one. See you on the shining bridge!