I returned home last night from the NW Emerging Women Gathering outside of Portland, OR. It was a refreshing experience of connecting with some amazing women. I got to see some old and new friends again and meet some more. The gathering was helpd at the Edgefield Manor
which is this amazing complex of buildings. It is part of the McMenamin’s system which I had never heard of before, but which seems really cool. They try to create “third places”
for communities – with ample space for people to come and find community. So at Edgefield there was the hotel, a movie theater, a concert hall, a pool hall, a brewery and pub, a winery with tasting rooms, a distillery, gardens, and lots of fun places to just hang out. I would love to have something like that near here.
The gathering of Emerging Women was a fun time. I’ve posted summaries of our activities over at the Emerging Women blog
so if you are interested, you can read that stuff there. As I expected, this gathering was very different than the other two I’ve attended so far. Granted, it was in a different area of the county (one slightly more progressive and emerging friendly imho) and hence reflected it’s surroundings. But even with similar discussions taking place at each, I have come away from each one with a different take away. At the first Midwest Gathering last spring, I was repeatedly reminded of the need to use my voice. I found the encouragement to reenter discussions, start writing, and to not fear stepping up in leadership. At our East Coast Gathering back in October I was most influenced by the ecumenical nature of the women gathered there. I came to a new appreciation of our differences and the wonderful things we can learn from our divergent traditions. At this gathering the theme that kept popping up for me was that of spiritual direction.
We were encouraged by the leaders there to find mentors and/or see a spiritual director. While the need for something like that was something I had acknowledge before, it was always in the “wouldn’t that be nice” category. It’s kinda hard to have a spiritual mentor when you don’t know anyone who you would ever consider for that role. But during the gathering I got to talk with a number of women who either are or are preparing to be spiritual directors. I got to have a short spiritual direction session as well. It is not something I had ever really considered (or really knew much about) before. So I’ll be thinking about it and looking into it.
I also liked the space given to various forms of worship at this gathering and hope to bring some of that back to our church and to the upcoming Midwest Gathering I’m planning for this March. Using one's creativity and body in worship is not normal for us, but can be a deeply meaningful experience. I think women need these times to learn from each other, to be encouraged and empowered, and be given a refreshing space to worship and grow.
Labels: Emerging Women, Events