Somewhere down in San Diego, away in some hilly area, a retreat happened today, a women’s yearly retreat. Last year they asked me to write a meditation for the last day, and I did. They liked it. They asked the same this year and suggested the title of Building Community. Reader, frankly I was stuck. I was stuck until I shared with my writing students how stuck I was, and the following images came to me of getting up, getting dressed, knitting, knitting friendships. I hope you like it. It is mostly Baha’i related, but I never write to just Baha’is, but rather, write to people – their inner essence, for we are all connected.
Building community. Esther Bradley-DeTally for the women who gather at retreat –Spring, 2012.
Oh dear, that heavy block-like phrase, so necessary for foundations, so hard to wield for the artistic mind, the mind that wants to build angel wings into the phosphorescent sky.
Oh well, you, out there, you women, sitting, standing, laughing, crying inside, with not enough to do, too much to do, do you feel as if a large building, let’s take an image of the Empire State Building, is over your head, descending on a crane, and the wires are frayed, as is your psyche, when this building obliterates all sun and light, and only shadows eclipse your tiny, puny, human frame?
No worries my duckies! Take up words, and paints and colors, and throw some tea with jasmine, coffee with creamed soy of buttercup, butternut essence, grab a friend, a kid, a knitting needle, find a canopy, from arbors of Bougainvillea to hard, green, snappy, umbrellas over the outwardly composed urban woman.
In other words duckies, don’t sweat it.
There’s no one golden bricked path to building communities, no one particular hard hat to wear. Think:
Mornings: get up.
This in itself is an immense achievement, because we do it, day after day, year after year. That’s what women do best. They get up.
Okay, put on clean underwear. Any kind duckies. I still wear granny types, but thongs will do. Count your blessings if said inner garment is not inside out. That’s part of getting up.
Shovel the body together, teeth, nails, and do whatever you have to do, the laundry, the work, the subway, the elevated, the car with too big a tank, or the silent runs on the latest tech – you catch my drift.
Think – knit, purl. Yes, that’s right, knit, and purl. Duckies, this is what we do. Let all the manly Germanic phrases of “build community” slide off your head, like excess water in the ears from the swimming pool. Let it slide down your neck, off your shoulders, down your thighs, your ankles and into the ground. This is California, and we could use the water.
Knit one stitch at a time, because that’s you, creating whatever base you need, tight, little bits of yarn sitting next to each other like sparrows on a telephone wire, keeping each other company, overseeing the world. Then if you want to be bon vivant, try the pearl, a backward knit? Who knows, but you catch my drift. Pull things together one stitch at a time.
You’ll make it; soon you will have knit friendships into this fabric of yours. Find someone you like, maybe very different from you, but you like that person. You want his/her qualities. Knit her into your heart’s edges.
Places to find loose stitches:
12 Step Programs
Coffee places where everyone shouts and hollers to each other,or whispers, take your pick.
Dogs, talk to them all, if they are on a leash and their canines aren’t fanged and pointed right at you.
Long obligatory prayer in morning, Tablet of Ahmad for yourself, any others
Prayers, prayers for others, i.e., parents, kids, healing, protection, the Baha’is in Iran, help immensely.
Private talk with trusted friends, the ones you can bay at the moon with and grow German shepherd fur on your throat. (We’ve all been there)
Time to make your own list; this is just from an old gal with a writing voice of a 35-year-old, but this is something I count upon for sure, and I’m 73 and in thrive right now:
“Nothing save that which profiteth them shall ever befall My loved ones.”
Check the quote, not sure I have it just picture perfect in print.
Have a glorious hour, day, week, month, and life.