From sewing circles to quilting bees, consciousness raising meetings to book clubs, women continue to meet to exchange ideas and support one another in our pursuit of……? When I heard Gloria (Steinem that is) talk about our need to communicate with other women, I was in a roomful of like minded women physicians—we all were devoted to making medicine a better place for the woman physician and women patients.
Having said that, I know that not everyone agreed with the uncompromisingly strong pro-choice stance Steinem makes. But still we all realized that our shared concerns, our shared interests, and in the end, our shared successes (no matter which ones you choose to pursue) were strengthened by sometimes agreeing to disagree while coming together whenever we could, when we agreed.
So back to the more intimate situations when women gather. Take my Busy Women’s Book Club. Sunday night we met for our annual movie and dinner. The best ever vegetarian, kosher, gluten free dinner ever! Fabulous hors d’oeuvres by Karen with potato/carrot/zucchini ? latkes dipped in guacamole and blueberry salsa. Ellen G.’s sweet and sour soup with tofu and fungus (had another more palatable name like elephant ears, I think). Judge Lisa’s greek salad made after a 9 hour drive up from New York that day. Susan made a quinoa salad, always well received. Ellen S. an artful bowl of grilled veggies—loved those brussel sprouts. Vickie with a bean/wild rice/dried sun tomatoes main dish. My contribution—eggplant lasagna (truth be told Sonia made it but I chose the recipe J). And Antoinette took the prize with the most delicious ever flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream for dessert after the movie. We missed Eileen and Stephanie.
Good thing the dinner was great. Rocky sailing after that. Our red-box film, starring Tom Hanks who was upstaged by the new-to-acting kid, Incredibly Close and Extremely Loud, was damaged and couldn’t be fixed. Not with Windex, not with slow forward, not with flipping it. Oh, so disappointing. Definitely gotta see it (and so far it really looked like it shoulda gotten the Best Picture award). Its clever handling of the incredible journey looking for the lock that fit the key was a most fabulous “special effect” I have seen in a very long time.
When we retired for the great dessert and some coffee/tea or more wine, we caught up on our news. Ellen S. is having an exhibit at the Burchfield Penny Art Gallery—a whole floor to herself in Buffalo’s newest museum. Judge Lisa has a new and prestigious position on one of her statewide judges’ committees. Kam Jam is taking off big time nationally but Vickie says she and Mitch are not yet ready to retire. Check it out at Bed, Bath and Beyond!
As for myself, I made a grave error. I shared some personal hopes and dreams. It was on a touchy subject—intermarriage. I must have touched a very raw nerve. The conversation turned a bit ugly. I found myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to defend my feelings about how this would affect my family. In fact, in a place I thought I was safe, with my book circle—now in its 5th year, I clearly upset someone whom I consider a friend because I shared my hopes and dreams, my concerns and my compromises.
The interchange upset me so much that I couldn’t sleep that night or the next. Now, with a few days gone by, and not too few conversations with others (not in the club), I am more at peace. I know what I need to say (or write because I am somewhat of a coward and I do better on paper) to this person so that she knows my sentiments are those that guide my life, not a comment on what she believes or on how she lives her own.
My friend and colleague, Dr. Jean Shinoda Bolen, has written so much about sacred circles. I have always wanted to be in one. After 5 years of meeting and talking about our feelings through the books we read, I made an assumption that the group was “safe.” Like I always say in my professional life, never assume anything. Better to know. Now I do.