Every year, for over 10 years now, we gather as a supportive, caring, listening, praying, laughing, loving community in our friend’s seaside home the last weekend in January. We call it the Wonderfully Not Normal Weekend. There are about 15 of us, give or take one or two who regrettably can’t make it because something, though very few things, take precedence over this unique and precious time together.
The goal is always to get there Friday evening for our first community meal. The menu plan is really no longer a plan at all. It just flows organically. Everyone brings their specialty, along with lots of snacks – nuts, fruit, granola bars, and of course, lots of chocolate!
And, while the conversation could easily flow organically too the whole weekend long, there is purpose in this weekend – to connect, to know one another, to hold a sacred space for one another, to pray for one another.
Because nowadays, time and space, full-time and part-time jobs and ministry separate us. The years of being home with our kids have mostly long passed.
When we first began this holy weekend we allowed time to drift along, with a few non-negotiables. We always gathered in the wide-open living room, the fire crackling in the big stone fireplace for most of our time together. And we listened to one another. Trials, triumphs, tragedies…all mixed up in one weekend.
One had a crisis with a child. Another’s marriage was on rocky ground. Still another had finally lost some weight. One just had her first daughter’s wedding…and then a grandchild. We recapped life together.
Now we’re more intentional with this sacred community time. Each of us is invited to share for 10 minutes about whatever they like or need, as the case may be, to talk about.
Then we, the listeners, get 5 minutes to affirm the designated speaker, ask a question for greater understanding, reflect back what we’ve heard. But we are not allowed to try to solve our speaker’s problem, or fix or advise. The point is to listen…to hear. Finally, the one who has just shared sits in a chair, and we gather round and lay hands on her and pray for 5 minutes. It’s a powerful prayer circle full of love, sometimes tears, even sobs, and lots of laughter and joy too.
Everyone gets her turn over the course of the weekend. And everyone returns year after year to hear, to love, to learn, to grow in community.
What do we do for one another as a band of community?
- We affirm – Listening so intently validates our worth as a sister and friend, our lives – lumpy, bumpy, and imperfect as they are, our struggles and our triumphs, it all matters.
- We care – The timing of this weekend is perfect – far away enough from the holidays but near enough that the New Year still feels new. We have an opportunity to reflect back on our year. Doesn’t each year deserve that? And then we start to dream, map out, envision the next year amongst people who we know care.
- We are present – In the middle of all the busyness of life, we stop. We set aside our plans, our thoughts, ourselves as we listen. We think, we feel, we are present for one another.
- We remember – A year can be a long time. As we listen and share, we are reminded of our dreams from the past. And sometimes we see progress we hadn’t seen before.
- We inspire – I have a dream to write a book. Truth be told, several books. And so, I’m sure like many of the God-sized Dreamers who show up here on this site, I collect my thoughts, ideas, notes all the time. This past January, when my dear friend shared, I was struck by how her words were in complete harmony with an idea I’ve been feverishly writing notes on. Coincidence? I think not! I am inspired and propelled to move forward.
Our dreams do not exist apart from us. They are in us, an extension of us, a piece of all that makes up each one of us. A dream shared, expressed, acknowledged, accounted for takes shape in community…and sometimes that’s actually where our dream comes true.
What’s your dream? Share it with us today so we can cheer you on!
Want more on girlfriend getaways and friendship? Check out this podcast…
Shared by Elise Daly Parker