Things We Don't Talk AboutThings We Don’t Talk About
(Women’s Stories from the Red Tent)

featuring Special Guest:
Dr. Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost

October 9-11, 2015
DeKoven Center, Racine Wisconsin

The Red Tent: Women as Voices of Wisdom and Compassion

At the request of our Keynote Speaker, Dr. Isadora Liedenfrost, we had written down without signing our names, but with complete honesty, a deep fear or life issue we were dealing with. In our afternoon workshop we gathered together in the Red Tent and sat silently as we passed a paper bag around. In turn each of us stood up, drew out a slip of paper, and read of a concern or fear one of us was facing.

Marsha Forrest

Once again, our Spring Conference brought us together at the Pilgrim Park Conference Center, with its cozy gathering spaces, sturdy porch furniture, and peaceful natural setting. Our keynote speaker, Marsha Forrest, spoke to us of noticing, acknowledging, and listening to every living thing, being close to the earth, and taking the time to understand our own path upon it. She led us in a self-exploration exercise that included a solitary walk, barefoot if we wished, around the grounds. We shared our symbolic hand drawn pictures and personal discoveries, and supportive and curious responses from others were much appreciated.

During our fall retreat in the beautiful DeKoven Center we truly celebrated our lives as women. With the guidance of our keynote speaker, Joyce Higginbotham, we explored how to value and deepen our wisdom as women while reaching out to others in a compassionate way. Higginbotham, the coauthor of three books on Paganism, discussed Pagan Spirituality, and through meditation led us all on an exploration of our own unique life experiences. During discussions we learned much about each other, and at the same time realized that as women we shared many common concerns.

In her workshop, Higginbotham talked about the Sacred Act of Listening. Using material from the Parliament of the World Religions in 2009, she defined the sacred art of listening as:

Every Spring, as I arrive at Pilgrim Park, peace settles over me. It seems to have the same effect on all of us, we just settle in. Pilgrim Park is set in farm country, with old stately trees, calm water, walking trails, a porch for just sitting, reading, or chatting. Every year I feel lucky to get away for this quiet weekend with no responsibilities: a time to relax.

For me, Pilgrim Park is a also a joyous place: old friends, lots of hugs, catching up , and new attendees, greeted and introduced.

I was up early Saturday, a beautiful day, and was out for a walk. By the lake I saw a woman I didn't know, moving slowly and peacefully in Tai Chi. (It was Kathy Salzano!) I stepped behind her and started following her slow flowing moves. I didn't know Tai Chi, and she didn't know me, but that didn't matter. She glanced at me, and continued. For fifteen minutes or so, in the quiet morning, with birds chirping, and frogs croaking, I was one with nature, moving slowly and gracefully. Later, when I told her how much I enjoyed it, I asked her if maybe she would do a Tai Chi morning workshop next year.

I could share the rest of my day... but you can read the rest in the Summer-Fall issue of Voices of Women!