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:

  1. the art of becoming a listening presence.
  2. a way of being that opens us up so that we can listen to people from diverse cultures and religions, with beliefs and points of view unlike our own.
  3. being a presence of understanding rather than judging.
  4. being open, curious, and attentive to others in such a way that at the end of the conversation they have fully expressed themselves and feel more alive.

As we came together we talked, we listened, and we learned about one another. Listening to one another with attention, with understanding and without judgment was a gift we gave freely to one another. At our closing ritual on Sunday morning we drummed, we sang and we said goodbye.

When words didn't seem to express our feelings, we sang. We sang ""How could anyone ever tell you, you are less than whole."" We sang Shelley Graff's song "You are Not Alone."

We hear your cry, deep in the night
You're not alone, We'll hold you tight.
Deep in our hearts, wrapped round your soul
Open your heart, and you will know.

Sadly with fond memories, off we went. We'll be together again at Pilgrim Park in the Spring, and hope you will join us. Whatever your cares are, whatever your concerns, you will find you are not alone.

~ by Juli Cicarelli