Chuck gave Gayle a newspaper article advertising an upcoming event in Mobile, Alabama. He thought I might be interested in attending this women’s empowerment week-end less than an hour from Scott’s house, since I was already in the area. How sweet is that, a man who used to leave the room whenever he encountered me is now offering suggestions for getting my matriarchal mojo going?
This Womenspeak2010 conference is only the second one of its kind, ever. There are over six hundred and fifty females, mostly over forty, from all over the world, creating their identities as crones. I’ve never been one to embrace large groups of women unless I had a job, as I quickly bore of the talk of gorgeous grandchildren and horrible husbands. This conference touts itself as a way for women to connect their strengths to exponentially create more harmony across the vest span of creation. How cool would that be?
The organizer is a woman named Paula d’Arcy who has turned the pain of losing her husband and one of her two children simultaneously in an automobile accident into a passion for world peace. If the opening ceremonies were any indication of the grandeur of the vision of her organization, she may indeed be able to change the world. Cirque du Soleil could take a few lessons from this lady.
We were wowed with incredible African dances and drum beats created by choreographer Eleanor Gwynn in North Carolina. Mother and daughter Bronwyn Cooke and Heather James came all the way from Hawaii to inspire us with a plea to be kind to our earth, imparted through a most magnificent hula dance. A prayer for peace was shared with us from the gracious heart of a member of the Mennonite community, Mary Etta James, before Sara Thomsen took our breath away with her singing of the conference theme song “By Breath.”
This song seamlessly segued into a sacred scarf ritual conducted by authors Joyce Rupp and Marcrina Wiedelkehr. Grammy winner Cynthia Wilson gave voice to the grief that facing real life can bring just before dramatist Janette Scott shared the story of the Mama Moses of many slaves, Harriet Tubman. Marie Plauche-Gustin brought life to a simple slip of silk with her interpretive dancer while Cynthia Clawson sang of the river and seeing God.
Palestinian Poet, Ibitisam Barakat, opened our hearts to hear of the horrors of her homeland with humor, poetry, and passion. We were again brought out of our chairs by the power of the E. Gwynn African dancers, only to be lulled before bedtime by the perfect pitch of the only male performer, Craig Hella Johnson. All of this was interspersed with Paula’s pleas for us to unite our breath, blood, bodies, and spirits to recreate our world in peace.
The message Paula wants us to take away from this week-end is that we didn’t attend a conference, we attended our lives, and that we can use our lives to affect change. I can hardly wait to see what she has planned for us today.