07 November 2009

The Gathering, 2009

About the whole quantity/ quality time together thing: quality takes quantity. I saw this year how 6 years of gathering has lead to deeper sharing more quickly. Let me explain.

6 years ago, after moving back to the east coast from California, I wanted to reconnect with my then adult nieces. I had fallen out of contact after 14 years on the west coast. I had no relationship at all with the younger ones.

I also wanted to set up a forum where we could heal the wounds of our family. Grandchildren were coming so the cycle of violence needed to end. I hoped we could end it together.

I joined with my 2 sisters-in-law (my husband's sister and my younger brother's wife) and we put out a call to my daughter, my older brother's 5 daughters and my younger brother's 3 daughters. I wasn't sure how many would come since they lived all over the USA and in Trinidad. I explained what I hoped to initiate and, to my amazement, all 9 young women came for a 3 day gathering in Maine. I called it "the nieces gathering" and they called it "the cousins gathering" but all agreed on the importance of healing ourselves and our family for our own benefit and the benefit of our next generation (1 daughter in each family had a child by then).

We had a theme (Celebrating Women in Family) and an agenda to facilitate sharing. We also had fun activities and down time to just hang out and reconnect. It was a fabulous time. We shared our stories, laughed and cried together and made ceremonies for our healing. Everyone either came early or stayed late to extend our time together.

Well, against all odds, we've all met every year since! 3 times in Maine, twice in Florida and once in Philadelphia. We've Celebrated Love, Generations, Change, Transitions and Passion. We've grown closer, helped my husband's sister die, had more babies, loves, divorces, and a marriage. Both crones turned 60. I've grown closer to these amazing young women and admire their commitment to themselves and to one another. They've grown closer to one another and support each other during the rest of the year as well. They're friends.

And, yes, healing has happened along the way. From the first year when most of the talk was about past hurts to this year when the past hardly came up. Everyone is now focused on herself and growing in the ways that each one thinks is best. And have I said how remarkable they are? How I have come to treasure my relationship with them? How fortunate I count myself?

The photo above is our latest gathering (October, 09) and the one above that is the first. I'm grateful for this gathering. I'm glad we've taken the time together.

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