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communion

“There was a pause. Words had begun to be elusive. Laura could not pin the right ones down. They floated around in her head. She finally managed to say, “Communion. Something women are only beginning to tap, to understand, a kind of tenderness towards each other as women.”

Tenderness. Sybille did not understand it. In a letter sometimes, but never in the flesh could she give it to us.”

“And that, you feel, is what women can give each other, but have held back, and are learning?”

“To share the experience of being a woman. It’s almost undiscovered territory…”

-May Sarton

A Reckoning

tenderness-friendship

May Sarton is a kindred spirit and a sort-of elder to me. I’ve long looked to certain passages from her journals and poetry to express what I can’t, but I had never read one of her novels, until this week. Now it sits next to me, prickled with a dozen or so papery bits, marking those lines that I do not want to lose hold of.

The ones I’ve shared here fold in gently with some of the discussions we’ve had around the blogworld lately. I’ve been blessed to have experienced much tenderness from women throughout my life, and that has only continued in the territory of the interwebs that we’ve been discovering. Not every experience, of course, but it has been mostly possible to explore and settle into a mostly beautiful, real, warm-hearted land.

May Sarton wrote this novel in the late ’70s. She died in 1995. I would so love to know what she would think of our online connections and the warmth and kindness so often expressed in our blogs and Instagram feeds? And sharing the experience of being a woman…that most of all.

Communion…it has been harder to find in person as the years unwind…this deep, womanly sort. I am so grateful to have found it through pixels and glass pages. But will keep looking for it also in all of the other ways it shows up. Sometimes captured in photos, taken unbeknownst, found with surprise…and tenderness.

of festivals and everydays…

damp-floor

This photo captures one of my favorite moments in the past week. I’ve been feeling my way through honoring of the festival of Vestalia…choosing a room to focus on and uncluttering and refining within its walls each day. The kitchen took two days, in short periods of attention between work hours. When I got to the woodstove corner, after clearing away the ashes and wood bits and hearth-keeping tools for the season, I was inspired enough to get down on my knees and scrub…and wipe up the sooty suds…and scrub some more.

A little while later, inhaling the smell of damp brick and tile and wood, I felt a kinship with the Vestal Virgins of long ago and their sacred task at this festival time, but more nearly with the women throughout the ages, for whom hearth-scrubbing and keeping was a part of everyday home-life.

I had been looking at the dusty little piles underneath the woodstove for longer than I want to admit. Vestalia beguiled me into finally choosing to take out the broom and scrub brush and perform my domestic ceremonial. Thinking on it since, I’ve realized that the old ways…traditions…high days and holy days…rituals…or banner days (as I like to call them) have become a sort of tool for me. I learn of one…like Vestalia…and tho’ I am not into Roman history or culture or religion…a facet of it touches me. The light of it then reflects upon something that needs illuminating in my mind, my heart, my days. Thoughts of Vesta flowed into what I know of her Greek counterpart, Hestia-goddess of the hearth. And the focus that honoring and celebrating can bring was just what I needed, to more lovingly tend the home that has gotten rather short shrift in recent days for all of the usual reasons.

The enchantment petered out today when those usual reasons…work complications…headache…others needing tending…dampened the ceremonial spirit. But it may come ’round again tomorrow, and if it does, I will be there to gently wield it into a little more peace and brightness within our temple-home.