Monday, April 29, 2013

sisterhood and breath

Wow, I had such powerful and moving weekend. I still don't quite know how to process it all, but I will try my best to share some of it here with you, and keep the memory alive of it for myself too.

On Friday evening I went to a wonderful women's full moon circle gathering. It was hosted and facilitated by the wonderful Beth Wallace. She blogs here and her facebook page is here.
We began the evening with a gorgeous meal, a feast for all the senses. There were four of us sharing the evening and we chatted a little over the meal about ourselves and where we are at. We talked a little about what had brought us there.
 For me I had gone to the evening full of gratitude. 
Gratitude for the place in which I find myself now and gratitude to the women who have supported and carried me through recent turbulent, difficult times. 
 Beth told us that she had invited some people to put their names forward, through her fb page, who wanted to be thought of during the fire event we were having later in the evening. Her intention was to write those names on pieces of paper and offer them into the fire as she wished for them what they wished for themselves.
 I thought this was a wonderful way to honor those women who have supported me and so I got some paper and a pen and wrote the names of those special, important women. 
Following the meal we smudged each other with sage before entering what Beth calls her temple. There we sat, eating pineapple and raw chocolate and we shared some more of where we were at.
 As I was talking about the support I had received and the gratitude I felt, I suddenly saw just who these women are.
 They are my sisters.
 I am one of four children, three of whom are boys. So I have never had a sister, I have never felt like I missed one. But this is what I felt, so strong and from the heart. 
These women are my soul sisters, who love me unconditionally, who wipe my tears and offer help, who listen to my rantings and ravings and who see me even when I don't see myself. 
Oh the joy and the truth of that realisation was so powerful it brought me to tears.

When we had all shared it felt like a good time to do some drumming. We took a drum each and after a while of sitting in deep silence a very slow, soft heart beat of drumming began. As the beat developed I felt a very strong urge to sing. I started to sing just what was in my heart.
'hey sister'
'hey mother'
'walk with me'
'sing with me'
'drum with me'
'laugh with me'
'dance with me'
'birth with me'
'hey sister'
'hey mother'
While I was singing another voice joined in, someone started dancing. The walls melted away and we were drumming and singing and dancing with every woman in the world. 
It was incredible, so beautiful, so moving.
Organically the music came to an end and when I opened my eyes I was so surprised to find we were still in the small room in west cork! We were all pretty speechless and awestruck. 
The time was right to go outside to the fire. We got on our warm things and walked out to the garden carrying little candle lanterns to light the way to where the fire was blazing. 
We stood around the fire for a little and then in the Beltane tradition I leaped over the fire. Then I knelt and by the candle light took my little stack of names. 
I sang each name in turn, from the heart and with deepest thanks before offering them to the fire. It was beautiful.
After the others had done what was important to them, we held hands around the fire and held each other letting the endless joy and wonder of the evening wash over us. 
We felt like we had really connected with each other and also with women (and men) all over the world and all over time. We felt part of something so big, so powerful, so strong.
One of the women had brought her ukulele with her and played us a very beautiful song she had written herself and then it was time to go in. To my complete surprise it was nearly 1am, a whole hour after I had told my babysitter I would be home (luckily she is very lovely and special and didn't mind at all).

The next morning I was still very tired, but I could barely talk. I was still so overwhelmed by the evening. I sat the kids in front of a dvd and I sat in the morning sunlight and painted, from the heart, trying to capture some of the essence of the experience.

 I painted being held by hands, by sisters, I painted the fire and energy of love,
 I painted women, holding each other's hands, strong, struggling, old, young, filled with fire, filled with fear.
 women holding hands, holding the world
 when I finished I pegged it outside in the wind, the wind that will blow my love to each of my sisters, all of my sisters, to you.

Friday night was a real out breath, I breathed out my love and gratitude, I sang out my love and gratitude.
Sunday was an in breath.

I was very lucky that on Sunday the chaplaincy of Cork University had invited some monastics from Plum Village who study under Thich Nhat Hanh to guide a day of mindfulness that was open to the public. Sunday is the day Andy has the kids, so after dropping them off I drove myself there and enjoyed a wonderful, very peaceful, very nourishing day. I learnt so much and it will really help to deepen my practice which I have been using for nearly a year now I think. It was a true breathing in.

I got home shattered and I am still very tired today, but wow what a weekend. Certainly one I will never forget!


  1. Laura, that is simply beautiful xx

    1. thank you Lou, and now you know why I didn't get much work done this weekend lol x x x

  2. You. Are. Amazing.
    I sincerely hope you never doubt or forget that.

  3. So beautiful Laura. Thank you for sharing.

  4. I want to use one of your paintings on the title of my coming book of poetry. Would you please allow me to do so. I am waiting for your kind email.
    Thank you.
    Ahmad, Pakistan
    email :