Diane, Michelle and I settled in for the hour-long ride to the Milwaukee airport to catch planes that would scatter us in different directions. We, along with Cindee and 9 other women, had been sequestered for a week at a Writer's Retreat on the shores of Lake Michigan in Oostburg, Wisconsin. We had all expressed our mixed feelings about going back to our "normal" lives - back to responsibility, schedules, jobs, sickness and challenging situations at home. We had been in a cocoon of grace, at least that's what it felt like, sheltered from the day to day cares of our own worlds.
We all shared the passion of writing and that week we shared our written and unwritten stories. We shared our hearts, we shared our hopes, dreams and fears. Over tears and laughter, over joy and pain, delicious meals, chopping vegetables, long hikes and walks, doing dishes, hauling wood, making journals; over all this and more, we bonded, hearts and spirits. We came to know the deep places we seldom shared with others. We came to know each other just a little bit better because of our close proximity to each other in such an intense setting.
We shared more than our writing that week and I think that's why it was so hard to leave. We bonded in a way that few women ever do. We felt loved, accepted, a part of something that was a balm to our souls.
Going back to the "real world" was a little like waking out of a wonderful dream to face shattering reality. It was there - in your face - demanding you give it time and space.
I think each of us took a little courage with us back into the "real world," at least I know I did. Courage to face the challenges of my craft (writing), but also courage to face the "real world" knowing that God is in it with me and that my sisters are with me in it, too.
None of us is an island unto ourselves. We need one another. God designed it that way. But sometimes walking in the stark reality of life, we fool ourselves into believing we don't. We don't want to need each other because we are afraid of being let down, afraid of being ignored, being rejected. Afraid that our needs won't be met, so we struggle to go it alone. For one week on the shores of Lake Michigan, we were not afraid to need and we were blessed!
I needed Cindee's love and affirmation, her gentle smile and to see her laugh.
I needed Diane's optimism and her laugh and to see that she was all right.
I needed Crystal's perspective, craftiness and her patience.
I needed Michelle's zest for life, her fun side and her expertise as a chef!
I needed Ingrid's gentleness and caring.
I needed to see the plight of the imprisoned from Jill's perspective and her calm spirit.
I needed Mary's quiet spirit and I needed to see the heart of a child through her eyes.
I needed Kelly's compassion and to see her perseverance in the midst of great physical challenges.
I needed Jan's sense of humor, her beautiful melodic voice and to be reminded of the gift.
I needed Heather's optimism, her mother's heart and her honesty.
I needed Deb's energy, her passion and her vulnerability.
I needed Leslie's instruction, encouragement and affirmation.
I needed the portion of Christ each one of these precious women brought to the table.
So, Ladies, just "Tell the dang story!"