Sophia Gathering 2010
When I went to bed last night, my throat was really sore from talking too much. It occurred to me that I had done more talking in the last three days than I had in the last three weeks. That’s what happens when women get together, isn’t it?
This last weekend we had our 2nd annual Sophia Gathering. It was in Carlsbad, CA about 6 blocks from the beach. We had about 20 women, mostly Exponent bloggers, with some other Mormon feminist friends from AZ and CA.
In addition to the Exponent II publication staff retreat, we had sessions on feminist academics, healthy eating, Mormon feminist activism, and stories from women about their personal spiritual journeys.
This year we had the good fortune of having Margaret Toscano as our keynote speaker. She spoke about healing the feminine wound through a journey to the underworld, and tied in stories of women from ancient mythology to help us understand how to heal pain in our lives. It was incredibly insightful and moving. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing Margaret speak several times, and I am continually impressed by how dynamic and brilliant she is. It was clear that she put a lot of time into her presentation and that was so meaningful to me. As an aside, Margaret is a great person. She was genuinely thrilled to participate in our retreat and worked alongside the rest of us by even taking out the trashes as we tidied up the house.
One of our sessions was a discussion of Strangers in Paradox, a book that Margaret and her husband Paul authored on Mormon theology about 20 years ago. I was glad that Margaret was willing to do this, as Strangers is one of my very favorite Mormon books. (If you’re interested, the entire text is available online.)
I would be remiss in my review if I did not mention the fabulous food. Thee was Thai curry, homemade minestrone soup, taco salad, breakfast strata, pancakes with fruit and cream, and much more but I’m making myself hungry thinking about it. What is a Mormon gathering without food?
My take-away from the retreat was both spiritual and practical. I realized that although I have doubts about church practice and doctrine, I am still a very spiritual person. Throughout the retreat, I was in awe of the wonderful women around me who are strong, articulate, and smart. From a practical perspective, our group shared good ideas for how to help make it the church a more welcoming place for women. This gave me a renewed determination to be the kind of person who will work for positive change in the church for women.