Final Reflections: Days 2 & 3
Woven throughout our time together were short moments of experiencing and learning about different kinds of “self-care,” led by Mary Flammer. Soothing self-touch, ways of caring for our physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional selves, focused breathing were among the suggestions, which were appreciated and enjoyed by all.
Following a break, the participants spent time planning the workshops they will give in their community; the expectation is that over the next year, each group will give 4 workshops in their communities. Ideas that were generated included giving workshops at meetings that already occur (Women’s groups, craft or sewing groups, bible studies) and holding some individual meetings. Topics include Domestic Violence dynamics, self-care, bible reflections, mutual support among women.
The most holy time of the conference for me was when I had the blessing and privilege of sharing in leadership of worship and communion with Pastor Suzi, one of the only seven women pastors in the IENPG (Guatemalan Presbyterian Church). With help from a translator, we talked together about how we would do the service, who would do what parts, leaving some space for the Holy Spirit, and then worked together as if we’d been friends and colleagues for ages rather than having just met that evening. She shared a meditation on the Exodus, talking about the strong women who were part of that, and how God heard the cries of the Hebrews for relief from their oppression, and about how this service of liberation is the predecessor of our sacrament of communion. The elements we used in communion were tortillas and “ochetta”, a hot rice drink, and each of us spoke about how just as Jesus used food that was ordinary in his time, so we were using food that is ordinary in Guatemala, and then together we walked around the circle, serving the women, and finally, serving each other. The service ended with a time of prayer, where each of us brought forth a paper crane (folded lovingly by Mary with some guided assistance from Sue, Juana, and me) and placed it on the table silently voicing a prayer. Then Pastor Suzi had us all join hands and instructed us to pray for the person to our left and to our right, which was done privately but in the Guatemalan style of out loud. This became very emotional, and hugs and greetings were shared at the end, as we all went off to bed lifted up by the love of God and each other.
On the last day, we came together to celebrate what we’d learned together, with presentation of certificates to all, including our youngest participant, a 3-year old girl who came with her Mom and was a delight to have around. Betty Carrera led us in this celebration, which ended with a moment of all holding hands and then lifting our hands together in joy.
I close with the words of the song we sang a number of times throughout the event, words written by Colleen Fulmer, whose spiritual and woman-affirming songs I have enjoyed for many years:
Yo soy quien traigo de ayer
Yo soy quien soy hoy
Yo soy quien soy para todos
los días por venir
una gloriosa creación de alabanza
I bring who I am from yesterday
I am who I am today
I am who I am for all
the days to come
I am a woman,
a glorious creation of praise.