I walk around the elementary school of my childhood. Its cracked sidewalk has never changed. This brings me comfort. Old rusty fences that still are marked “1955” are the brave sentinels that somehow let people and dogs through their beleaguered locks. I stare into the old school office- same flesh colored counter, the turnaround where I waited for a ride after Brownie scouts, the old paper bark tree- still there. Pepper tree, jacaranda, smooth eucalyptus with wrinkles in its skin. Still there, old friend. The runway on the playground where I took off in flight. Still providing lift off, but now with a heavier plane. The planter where we circled up and sang whiney old ballads, and the parking lot where we carried cakes to the PTA bake auction, still there. The back stop where Debby Cogley and I “hid” homemade Wonka’s peanut butter chocolate bars from 3rd grade boys, still there. The silver hallway poles, whirling magic sticks as entryways into the Charlotte Anthony Halloween Carnival, still there, the cafeteria, the place where a junior Girl Scout pulled me onto her lap and made this 5 year old feel special, still there. Not much has changed in the hardware. A lot has changed in the soft ware, but the ghosts of kindness, blessing, and memory still haunt and bless the halls.Walking that place makes them feel real once again. I am so glad. So grateful.
One of the amazing things about setting up sacred container for a rite of passage is getting to enjoy the surprises that come up and grab you by the shoulders (and sometimes, kiss you exuberantly on the cheek!) A shining example would be the evening Ginny was caught in a late night reverie. I made my way in the dark to my daughter’s nesting place. “What are you thinking about?”
“All the women here and what I like about them.”
“Do you mind sharing?”
“No. Say a name.”
“How about Karmyn.”
“I was just thinking about her when you walked in. She’s so engaged in her life now as a wife and a mother. She’s so grateful for everything. I really like that about her.”
“I like that she wants to do everything wholeheartedly; she’s so involved in her community and her life- she’s focused, and yet she has the ability to cry in front of others, too.”
Sharon. “She is both smart and fun. She’s a lawyer, she’s been to seminary, and she slides around the kitchen on pretend roller skates.”
Nancy. “She is so honest. She doesn’t hold anything back. She puts it out there. I really like that about her.”
Maril. “She’s just so comfortable being herself. That makes others comfortable with being themselves. That’s a good thing.”
Jessie. “She has this ability to listen- I mean really listen. Not many people are able to do that- to focus her whole attention on what you’re saying and really listen.”
“What about me? Do you feel like sharing?” I say.
“Mom, I can’t believe you take the time, months to plan something like this. You have patience, and you know how to create these events. Why don’t you get together more often with these friends?”
I think about it. Time. I think. Time, and growing up.
Which, in reality, is exactly why we should be getting together more often.
And then I realize that the other gift Ginny is receiving here is gratitude. A deep appreciation for the souls surrounding her. There’s not much more a mother could want.