The moon last night was almost full, but a small sliver of its edge had been shaved away by a new phase—its brightness dimmed by clouds promising rain sometime before the next daybreak. I was reminded of how our feelings of worth can wax and wane with the weather or according to others’ evaluations of our service or devotion.
I am a woman, so what I offer here is from a one woman’s perspective. I cannot speak for all women. I cannot speak from a man’s perspective, but I can say something a few men and women might understand. Most of us can agree, regardless of gender, events and even relationships we hold dear can wear us down and test our limits, diminishing senses of worth we’ve fought hard to obtain. When resolutions to our problems aren’t apparent, or communications somehow break down, we are hurt and can become discouraged from even trying to make things better. We part ways, and the only thing that’s accomplished is temporary relief from the strain of disagreements, as we seek answers outside the event or relationship where little peace had been found. When the only solution offered is the resignation of one’s desires to fulfill the other’s, it can make us feel even more inadequate and alone.
Stepping out of this world of contention and confusion, even for an hour or two, offers a breath of life and hope for an unknown future. When small gifts and surprises of refreshment appear along difficult paths, it cannot be ignored, and hope that someone greater than ourselves is in control of outcomes, arrives like a spring from a mountain hillside. Such was the case yesterday afternoon, when a group of women gathered for a casual luncheon at the house of a widow —–a member of my mom’s church. An angelic presence could be felt throughout the house and gathering, filling the afternoon hours with introductions to new faces and encouraging conversations. Like the ocean breezes blowing through the opened house, soothed by shade from a screened-in porch, tender places, not yet healed, found respite from the silent ravages of personal storms hidden behind friendly smiles.
Most were older women with time in their schedules for mid-week fellowship. A few, like myself, where daughters of the senior women, in transition from one part of the country to another, with or without spouses, but all facing unknowns ahead. Who could have guessed a word search contest, a humorous story about “How to Clean Your Cat” (in the toilet of all places), or the flutter of plastic table clothes held in place by plastic clips would be the ticket to an oasis in the midst of major changes and concerns held in common. Conversations about books read and stories about how some of the women had met, filled out the rest of the appointed time.
Most impressive though, was the hostess’s admission she’d been preparing for this occasion for almost a month. Aside from the exceptional food offered on a long buffet-table, her hospitality was genuine as she made everyone feel like family from the time they entered her home’s front door. She was an example of a woman I’d always hoped to become. It was so comfortable, I was compelled to stash my sandals beside a wicker lounge-chair and let the souls of my feet follow the wooden deck to steps descending into a cushion of St. Augustine grass. Beyond the lush carpet, a long boat-dock reached out into the glistening waterway of the Banana River where boaters skimmed the surface. I allowed myself to be drawn up onto its solid decking, where a gateway of Mangrove trees tenaciously gripped the sandy banks with their exposed roots. I imagined them standing at attention, as overseers, so I could let the wind blow my hair and dress about me, without fear of what was beyond my control.
How blessed we are to be reminded, as we wait for answers to unsolved problems in our lives, that we are valued for who we are. We are not alone. We are each unique, but somehow, more alike than different. We are mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, workers, and lovers for whom the Beloved is preparing a place for us to be safe, honored, and called again: Women of Worth.