It was fabulous.
My sister knew one of the women who participated in the Interfaith Women's Circle from her work with the Spokane Interfaith Council and she invited me along to her first meeting with them. The ten of us sat in a circle in the living room of the South Hill home of one of the women and introduced ourselves, told a little about our spiritual tradition and home, and what draws us to interfaith gatherings. It was so warm and welcoming and comforting to hear these women's stories, to feel that glimmer of recognition and connection when their stories paralleled mine, sometimes surprisingly with the incredibly different upbringings and lives we had.
After the introductions, we got into the theme of the meeting, which was "Dancing with Spirit." As we discussed faith traditions that included movement and dance as part of their spiritual ritual, I was reminded of Barbara Ehrenreich's Dancing in the Streets which I read and reviewed a little while ago. Dancing can tap into a deep well of emotion and spirituality, and when done with others, community, too. (As a side note, dancing is just about the only form of exercise that I've ever really enjoyed, so I think I need to look at getting back into it, though it's been about 15 years since I did much of anything dance-wise. A couple of years of ballet when I was young, a couple years of jazz in high school, and a couple semesters of Latin ballroom in college. And, of course, all the country swing dancing Gene and I did while dating and since. But I digress.)
Shree*, the Hindu woman, lugged a box of tambourines and sticks in from her car for us to keep rhythm as she sang and she showed us a dance in honor of Ganesh, the Remover of Obstacles. Kamal* and Amirjet*, the two Sikh women, demonstrated some traditional dances from their culture, and invited us all to join in, which we did, more or less awkwardly, but enthusiastically. Miryam, the Catholic nun, led us in a Celtic blessing:
Deep peace of the running wave to you.And then it was time to eat! We'd each brought a dish to share. Veggie tray, mixed nuts, basmati rice with vegetables, couscous with dried fruit, dark chocolate (gluten free!) brownies. There's just something about gathering around a table with food that draws people together.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
The Interfaith Women's Circle only meets once a quarter or so, but I look forward to gathering with these women again, and learning more from them.
* Please forgive the spellings if they are wrong. I did my best to transcribe the names as I learned them, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if I completely butchered them.