Second rite of passage: a new leader emerges

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At age 18, I wanted to give my daughter a further, deeper, broader experience in entering the wide wide world of womanhood. It is a beautiful world indeed, and she was just brushing the shiny surface of it, so in her burgeoning blush into adulthood, I figured it was about time to let her “woman” with us.

Gentle though. Slow down. I did not want to overwhelm her. No major planning or making phone calls for this round. I still wanted this to be a gift. To ease into being an offerer in our little community was the goal, decked out in encouragement, feathered frills, and heart-warming extras. I wanted my daughter to see that being a contributor, really, was itself a gift- to the self as well as to others.

So my assignment was simply this: “Ginny, if I were to give you an hour or two to teach your loving little group of mentors something meaningful to you, and potentially, to them, what would you teach them? It doesn’t have to be a lecture (though it could be); you can make it a hands on experience, a listening experience, an experiment, the sky’s pretty much the limit!”

Well, what Ginny came up with was achingly beautiful. This I will share in a future post. It’s a fun thing to think about, isn’t it? If your child had a chance to teach you something, to teach her mentors something, what would she come up with? The answer might surprise you (and even make you tear up a bit . . . or if it’s hysterically wonderful, laugh out loud. . . .)

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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: mentoring notes from a bookish mom

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photo courtesy of Ginny Schneider

Speaking of mentors, here’s a reflection by a “wise woman” invited to Ginny’s first rite of passage. Every now and then, I’ll post the words of a participating mentor to show the diversity and creativity that can  be found in the unique contribution of each person at the event. The first is from Valerie, a dear friend, and lover of all things bookish!

“It was such a privilege to be a part of Ginny’s Rite of Passage! Even so, I was filled with a sense of responsibility and some self-doubt . . . I wanted to do something consequential and yet it had to be within my capabilities. After giving it much thought I turned to my life’s passion: books!

The books I gave to Ginny were somewhat thematically similar, mostly dealing with becoming a woman and finding one’s identity and voice in society. I didn’t necessarily turn to the classics but sought out those books that had affected me viscerally when I was a young woman. It was fun for me to brainstorm and list my favorite books of all time and to see how diverse they were. I did not purposefully choose both male and female authors and authors from various cultures and time periods but this is what surfaced, much to my delight.

Like everyone else I had been given a small drawer to what would be Ginny’s communal chest of drawers. I carefully lined it with pages from an old book (I think it was a romance for those of you who might shudder to cut up a book!) and then I typed up the names of the books I was giving her and why, printed this out on parchment in a teeny-tiny font size, and then rolled it up like a scroll and placed it in the drawer.

As you can probably tell, I had a lot of fun with this and that would be my advice to someone who was preparing a rite of passage gift: tap into that which gives you joy- that is where your wisdom resides.

Here’s part of what I wrote on that tiny scroll”

“Books are dreams you can hold in your hand; dreams are books without pages.”  – Sundaira Morninghouse, Writer

Up next . . . the importance of symbols . . . .