Ribbons, Folk Music, & Fireworks

Mix in '06, aka the joint gathering of women from the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ: wow. It was one of the most feminist events I've ever attended. 3,000 women singing, dancing, learning, and sitting through really long plenary sessions together. The whole event celebrated sisterhood: sisterhood as relationships between women, and sisterhood as solidarity with all women. Love and justice. I wish I could pull up that Tillich nugget about how love without justice is pure sentimentality, and justice without love is mere form. It made me glad, again, to belong to this nervy part of the Body of Christ.

On the first day they collected ribbons with dreams written on them. There were baskets and baskets of ribbons. I'd forgotten to bring one along, but when they read a few of the ribbons out loud, I felt represented: dreams for an end to war, for a lasting peace, for the eradication of poverty. So they took all of these satin visions and handed them over to a troup of local weavers. Whenever we were in plenary or worship, these women labored on a large wooden loom to weave our dream ribbons into fabric. On the last day they unrolled their work. It was narrow and long, a good fifteen feet of color. Do I even need to say that it was beautiful?

There was a concert on the last evening: Carrie Newcomer, Bernice Johnson Reagon (of Sweet Honey in the Rock), and Holly Near. They sang alone and together. Holly Near led a song that really got to me, something about how it would be strange not to hope for that would dishonor the people who came before us. I wish I knew the title of the song so I could track it down. I think I would be a better person if I sang it every morning.

Oh yeah, the best part: my Mama was there with me the whole time. She's already geared up for the Quadrennial in Greensboro, North Carolina (2010).

On Sunday, my Indy friends and I dropped her off at the airport so she could go play Mary Poppins for my sister, who is in the middle of a move to California. I spent a few more hours with Anna, Ben, and Mikaela, and then got in my mom's car to drive east to Ohio. Lord almighty, have I changed my tune about the rural Midwest. I used to despise driving through Western Ohio and Indiana. Too much of nothing, I thought. But now all those farms and fields and deciduous trees make my heart flutter. I hit Akron at 9:45pm, just as the Aeros game was finishing up. Fireworks went off as I entered the city. I don't know if they won or lost, though it would be a little strange to light up the sky for a losing team.

So now I'm sitting in my parents' living room. I'm spending the week with my niece, Lily, and her Mama and Grandpa. I'll hang out with Lisa in Highland Square, and play with Scoonie, our beloved cat that she adopted nearly four years ago when we left for California. I'll try to track down the poets I miss dearly, and drive a little further east to visit Bec in Pittsburgh.

I'm also reading. Just finished Middlesex, a genuinely astounding book that I hereby recommend very highly (not that you need my recommendation; the fact that it won the Pulitzer should suffice). Now I'm reading Evensong by Gail Godwin. I've been reticent to talk much about church, as I'm on vacation. I don't know why it seems okay to read a book narrated by a priest. Next on the queue is The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen.

It's so green here. I miss Ben and Deacon, who are holding the fort back in California. I needed to get away, to be in Ohio, for this week. But I do love that husband and that dog.

let it go my love my truest,
let it sail on silver wings
life’s a twinkling that’s for certain,
but it’s such a fine thing
there’s a gathering of spirits
there’s a festival of friends
and we’ll take up where we left off
when we all meet again.

just east of eden
but there’s heaven in our midst
and we’re never really all that far
from those we love and miss
wade out in the water
there’s a glory all around
and the wisest say there’s a 1000 ways
to kneel and kiss the ground

Carrie Newcomer, "Gathering of Spirits"

Photo courtesy of Charissa's mom, Pam. We didn't know she was going to be there until we ran into each other at breakfast.

Aren't the ribbons beautiful? And all that bread?

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