caminante haciendo camino
inspiration soup get together
2004-06-12 | 11:56 p.m.

I haven’t written in a while, mainly because I’ve been trying to process some things. I’m still not sure where to start describing the get together in Louisville, Kentucky, last weekend. I’ve been struggling to come up with the words to adequately capture the experience and what it meant to me personally. But my words just seem to brush at the surface of what I’m trying to convey. As inadequate as my words ring to my own ears, I must attempt to describe last weekend.

I guess, as with most things, the place to start is the beginning. In the summer of 2002, soon after I graduated from law school and in the midst of preparing for the bar exam, I came across Inspiration Soup. I had recently started Weight Watchers online, in order to curb the stress eating and resulting weight gain that I feared would happen during the 8 weeks of studying for the bar exam.

I had browsed through the Weight Watchers message boards, but I had never posted. When I first went to Inspiration Soup, I went seeking information, not about weight loss, but about the Goddess path. By the summer of 2002, for a variety of reasons, I had left my christian roots and had, for several years, been seeking a different connection to the Divine.

The first time that I posted on the Soup, I asked for recommendations on pagan books to read. I received a host of recommendations, along with a barrage of “turn to Jesus and be saved” type messages. I soon learned that there were a group of pagans who posted a daily thread on the Soup, called Pagans & Friends. The “Friends” part referred to the non-pagans, including some christians, who were open-minded, non-judgmental, and just plain friendly enough to be able to communicate without the hell-fire-and-brimstone that others on the Soup seemed intent on spewing.

Since that summer two years ago, I’ve been posting almost daily on the Soup, especially on the P&F thread. We have gotten to know one another, we have supported and encouraged one another, we have learned from one another, we have laughed together, ranted together, and cried together. In short, we became a community of friends, even though, with a few exceptions, we had never met face to face.

Last weekend, I met nine of the women from the Soup. We met at Carole’s home in Louisville, Kentucky. It was fabulous.

I left on Thursday evening. I was supposed to meet Sheila at the airport, who was flying in from California. I arrived and looked around, but didn’t see anyone who looked like the picture she had emailed to me. Soon they started announcing that the flight coming in from California was late. When the time for our departure started to draw close, I went to the counter to ask about the late flight from California. I told the man at the desk that a friend of mine was coming in on that flight in order to make the connecting flight to Louisville. Would she make it, I asked. He asked me what my friend’s name was. Sheila, I said. What’s her last name? I didn’t know! Thankfully, he said that the flight to Louisville was being held for those making the connection from California. We boarded. I saved the seat next to me. The plane filled. Still no Sheila. A few stragglers came on board. No Sheila. A few more minutes go by. I look up, and there she is. Frazzled as she was because of the continual delays, she looked beautiful – gorgeous red hair, a bright smile that reached all the way to her eyes, an innate kindness and warmth that I immediately recognized from her words on the internet. We started talking immediately, like two old friends.

After more delays, a different plane, and hours in the air we arrived in Louisville more than two hours late, around two in the morning. When we finally got there, Carole and Robin were at the airport to meet us, with smiles and hugs all around.

Throughout the next day, others arrived. First, Kathy who flew in with two suitcases full of fresh produce from Florida. Then Kerridwen, and Laurie, and Erin. MaryAnne arrived with her husband, Tom, and two furry babies, Muffin and Tyco Bear. Finally, Miaja joined us.

It was amazing to meet women for the first time who you in some ways knew so well and felt so comfortable with that it was as if we were falling back into the routines of old friendships. And, even though the connections felt familiar, there were wonderful aspects of each woman that could only be discovered by meeting in person.

Sheila, who I knew for her kindness and wisdom, was so vibrant in person. Her smile lit up her whole face and shined in her eyes. Robin, who I knew for her intelligence, wit, and sarcasm was so warm and giving; she cooked for us all weekend, and her giving heart was evident in the care she took to see that everyone’s needs were met. Kathy, the engineer of the precise mind and thoughtful words, was engaging and funny and so easy to talk to. Kerridwen, our wise woman on the board, was funny, intelligent, full of energy, and absolutely running over with love for everyone. And what a storyteller! This woman was born to tell tales around a fire ... her words draw you in, and her face and hands are so expressive. Laurie was just as kind and generous as I imagined she would be; her quiet encouragement touched everyone. She had beautiful handmade angel earing for everyone; a true gift from her heart. Erin, who’s words on the board resonated with a hard-won wisdom and strength, had an inner beauty and air of self-possession that was positively striking. The woman she is on the inside, simply glowed on the outside; she took my breath away. And she shared so freely of herself, with her words, her encouragement, her music, her yoga instruction. MaryAnne, shared stories of her life and her family. She listened, she encouraged, she motivated, she taught, all with that quiet, secure way that she has about her. Miaja, was a pure joy. What a beautiful woman, inside and out. Her smile reflected the kindness of her heart. And Carole, our host, was as open, loving, and accepting as her words on the board have always been. That woman has such a huge heart. She immediately welcomed us into her home, into her life, without reservation, or any conditions on her kindness. I grew up in christian churches, yet I can say without reservation that Carole is the most “christ-like” person I have ever met; she truly lives a life of love. (Her husband, Jerry, was just as kind; he was truly interested in every person there. What a great pair.)

What an amazing group of women. I can’t even begin to express how they each touched my heart, how much I learned from each of them, and how blessed I felt to be known and accepted and loved so unconditionally.

The weekend was full of talking and sharing. There was delicious food and soul-warming music. There were moments of insight and moments of pure wonder. There was laughter and tears. There was a sense of connectedness, of friendships formed over the ephemeral world of an internet message board, now cemented by our shared stories, our shared conversations, our shared selves.

Listening To: night sounds
Reading: Sage Woman magazine
Feeling: content

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