Recently I attended one of the several Mormon Feminist retreats that happen around the US. I have been to different retreats off and on for twenty five years now, placing me somewhere in the middle of women who pioneered such programs and women who are just discovering them. In each, the first guideline is to keep the details of what is shared in trust, drawing a kind of sacred circle around the discussions and personal moments. This allows everyone to participate with openness in a safe environment. I have no intention of breaking this promise, but I do want to share some general reflections on why I love these experiences and how I believe they propel me forward throughout the year, at least to the next one when I get filled with energy once again.
Telling people I am going – For many of you, telling people you have signed up for one of these retreats can result in the “tut-tut” of disapproval and fear for your wayward soul. For me, it is an opportunity to share a part of myself that I don’t express very often. I do have to endure the inevitable “Mormon Feminist” oxymoron joke (I weather this with the patience of a girl who has lived with the juxtaposition of “Pandora” and “Box” for fifty years), but after this ritual of obligatory chuckling, we often begin a more multi-dimensional conversation than we may have had before. I reveal my continued affiliation with remarkable women and my desire for spiritual connection. The other person will often open up about their religious activity and their desire to participate in more meaningful ways. Sharing my plans invites additional layers to the relationship and to our understanding of each other.
Seeing old friends – I have friends that I only see at retreats. After the whoops of excitement and hugs and marveling at how beautiful we remain year after year, we pick up the narrative exactly where we left off. I feel closer to the women I spend forty-two hours with each year than those I see every day. There is an intensity to our bond that telescopes a universe of affection into a walk to and from the cabin. These are the people who know me best and hold my history and love me anyway.Read More