The Gift of Women’s Community

At my first Women’s Gathering, I wasn’t sure what to think.  Strangers everywhere inhabited the campground I had just helped transform for the weekend.  I had been living at Twin Oaks for three months, and there was a celebratory energy that I couldn’t understand.  What was the big deal?  It was just the Gathering site, right in my backyard.  It was unnerving, to have these strangers in my home, acting as if they knew something that I didn’t.

It was at the Saturday evening sweat lodge that I learned the secret.  I went in a little uncertain about stripping off my clothes but reassured by the darkness.  And with a dozen other women, I expressed my grief and hope for the world.  I came out of the sweat lodge naked and dripping, reveling in my breath and my thirst and the evening air on my skin.  I felt expansive, bigger than my body, able to touch the sky.  I couldn’t cover up my body then.  So I wrapped a thin scarf around my hips and, for the first time ever, strolled through the night with my breasts open to the world.

That was my moment of “getting it,” of understanding the freedom offered by a community of women.  What was this strange new world that women had been creating for each other the previous 28 years?  Feminist women speak of feeling the weight of oppression lift from their shoulders and minds.  Spiritual women speak of the healing in their spirits or of the sacredness of the land here.  And the understanding of what women’s community gifts us can be intense, punctuated by tears gleaming on a woman’s cheeks or a fire burning in her eyes.  You see she is changed.

I still don’t always know the women I pass on the path or greet in the workshops, but I know they are here for the same reason I am.  We both seek that community of women, that altered state of stepping outside of patriarchy for a moment, of expanding our souls until they touch the sky.  This is our birthright.  We come to claim it, for ourselves and our sisters.  We’ve glimpsed a future where women thrive.  Would you like to see it?

— Brittany