and are supported in turn.
From two, there are three.
You, me, us.
Susan Korsnick 2016
and are supported in turn.
From two, there are three.
You, me, us.
Susan Korsnick 2016
For Summer Solstice, my friends and I are gathering to honor this special day & recommit ourselves to one another… unique blossoms that together form a garden of incredible beauty, grace, & strength. I wrote this poem to remind us of what makes us thrive.
A Blessing To Each Flower
A seed secure in the soil asks not, “What shall I be?”
It’s unique beauty comes naturally, effortlessly.
Nourished and nurtured, it grows more fully into itself
And what it is IS what it is meant to be.
The birch envies not the willow
Nor does it strive to be anything other than Birch.
Daffodil degrades not the dandelion
Nor does it mock the maple.
For all have a place in Gaia’s garden.
All are loved & accepted unconditionally.
And while each has needs that differ from another
All radiantly bloom with this blessing….
May we each have the tender care we need,
May we each be given the space to grow,
May we see our own beauty,
And may we celebrate the uniqueness in every blossom.
On March 15th, twenty-three culturally-diverse women, representing every decade of life from their teens to their seventies, honored the call from deep within themselves to gather in York, Pennsylvania’s first Red Tent. Coming from as far away as Philadelphia, these women gave themselves the gift of time– time to connect with other women & precious time to reconnect with their authentic Selves in a safe, nurturing space.
The actual Red Tent event only lasted a few short hours but the vortex of positive energy it created affects me on a profound level to this day. Responses from many of the women, through an on-line survey I sent out after the event, show that it was powerful, provocative, & nourishing.
After leading women’s groups for years using curricula such as Cakes for the Queen of Heaven & Rise Up & Call Her Name, I’ve since created my own workshops for both women & men under the name Pure You: Awaken Your Authentic Selves. As I researched topics that I thought would stimulate thought & discussion in a women’s spirit circle, I came across the film, Things We Don’t Talk About: Women’s Stories from the Red Tent. This documentary by Isadora Gabrielle Leidenfrost records the grassroots movement of Red Tents popping up all over the country. “A Red Tent is a red textile space where women gather to rest, renew, & often share deep & powerful stories about their lives.” It sounded exactly like what I wanted for the group. I watched the movie at home several times, secretly wishing for a Red Tent in my community, before sharing both the movie & the vision with others.
One evening last fall, I offered a “Red Tent movie night” with a discussion to follow. So many women wanted to attend that I had to offer it twice! Both times, the most popular question asked was, “When are we going to have a Red Tent here?” That confirmed what I had been thinking. The time was ripe to join the movement that was fast becoming an international phenomenon.
There’s a saying that if no one presents you with an opportunity, you have to create your own. Despite being in uncharted territory & having a healthy dose of fear, I created the opportunity that I wanted all of us to share.
My vision was to provide a safe, nurturing environment where women could find what they need to rejuvenate body, mind, & spirit. I wanted to create a place where they could be in the company of like-minded women, reconnect with their higher selves, & disconnect from the outside world for just a few hours. No demands, no obligations, no expectations. After organizing the overall format for the day, I stepped back & let it be what it needed to be.
As facilitator & host, I took my cue from a phrase often heard in education, “Better to be the guide on the side than the sage on the stage.” This was OUR Red Tent not MY tent.
From the day I committed to organizing this event, I had to consciously maintain a healthy balance between the logistics required to plan such an event & the sacred intention that would make this more than “just another women’s group”. I had high expectations for myself & the Tent.
When I prepare for my Pure You spiritually-centered events, creativity workshops, & circle groups, I like to plan the structure (agenda) while recognizing the need for fluidity. I envision a membrane freely breathing in & out, a living organism that moves the spirit as opposed to rigid schedules that shackle the soul. The right amount of structure supports; it doesn’t stifle.
Synchronicity is when the universe hears your prayers & answers them in mystical, mysterious ways. I never could have organized this Red Tent event without the many kindred spirits who offered their support. The space was graciously loaned to us by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York & its staff helped promote the event. Wonderfully artistic women helped create the space & several men offered their appreciation for what we were doing for their wives & girlfriends. (Eventually, I would like to do more for their daughters as well.) You know you are on the right track when doors open & someone is there to meet you on the other side. I am humbled & grateful beyond words.
I deliberately scheduled the first Red Tent to coincide with the Vernal Equinox, a time rich with symbols of new beginnings. It seemed the perfect time to start a new event for the community. Thanks to the feedback generously offered by many of the women, I have a better understanding of what they enjoyed about this event & what they would like to see different for the next one.
While many Red Tents don’t have a “theme”, ours did. I chose “Embracing Change” because so many women expressed that they were in periods of transition– new babies, empty nest syndrome, caring for aging parents, & facing choices as they start new chapters of their lives after retirement. Someone once said, “The only constant in life is change.” By sitting in sacred council with one another, more of us clearly saw that what we were experiencing was not new & that we had sisters in our midst who had gone before & had wisdom to share. We ALL had wisdom to share.
Raw emotions can appear & old wounds can reopen when women gather in a safe space & share their stories. I made it clear in the beginning that while we are here to listen & support one another, this is not an event that can take the place of talking to a professional. I had a small table near the exit for business cards, brochures, & emergency numbers of resources available to women in our city. Whenever I lead a group for spiritual or creative exploration, I take my responsibility for the women’s health & we;ll-being seriously, preparing as much as possible for the unexpected.
Yes, I created a sacred space for women to gather in community with one another but it was the women who created the magic.
I look forward to our June 21st Red Tent Event where our focus will be “Refilling The Well: Ways To Nurture & Nourish Your Self”.
I have an amazing group of friends who I can dance with, drum with, & drink fabulous bottles of wine as we laugh, cry, & share together. They’re more than friends; they’re mentors each in their own way, stretching me intellectually & spiritually. So when one of them suggested that each of us make a Truth Box, stirring creativity into the soup with our intellects & spirits, I was intrigued. I never heard of a Truth Box before. Ellen explained that it is a shoebox decorated by the owner to symbolize her truth about herself, using whatever materials inspire her. Then, each other member of our clan will contribute a small object to place in the box, the “truth” about the receiver as the giver sees it.
For example, one woman selected aromatherapy candles for each of us based on traits she saw in us. Her vision of me was revealed in the name of the fragrant purple candle I received– Creativity.
This bitterly cold January day is the perfect opportunity to go within… deep into the womb of my home (my art studio)… and deep within myself to reflect on what each friend means to me. I began with a meditation on an individual, focusing on her name & image in my mind. Thus inspired, I selected imagery, textiles, & patterns to represent the “truth” from the rich variety of materials I’ve collected over the years. Intuition reigned during this part of the process. Once materials were chosen, I let intellect rule so I could make decisions about composition & edit the materials that didn’t resonate as strongly as others. At first, I considered this activity a balancing act between the aspects of self– head, heart, & hands… but upon further reflection, it feels more like being on a child’s swing, flying through the air in a giant arc. At times reaching high toward spirit then dipping through intellect before swinging to the opposite height where emotions reside. What started out as an intriguing art activity ultimately became a magical, sacred act, expressing the connection between me & each of the women in my clan.
I know “truth” is multilayered, never complete & ever-revealing…like the wonderful friendships I have with these special women.
I am very lucky to have a supportive ring of people around me because their positive energy & encouragement give me the strength to pursue my dreams despite the challenge of living with my head in the clouds 🙂 Dreams can’t come true if we don’t have the courage to dream in the first place. Negativity shuts out the light, preventing inspiration & imagination from getting the nourishment they need to thrive. The positive people that surround me are radiant sunshine, encouraging me to try new things & stretch creatively. They support my desire to express my vision in a unique way. The saying goes, “It’s the journey, not the destination.” How much more wonderful it is to travel this journey with loving, supportive people who nurture me!! It hasn’t always been this way. I had to make tough choices about what kind of people I wanted to spend my time with & do some pruning so the strongest, healthiest relationships could grow. Are you able to surround yourself with positive people who nourish you or do you need to do a bit of pruning, too?
A week or so ago, I mentioned a friend who is battling cancer. I’ve completed her painting, Ring of Friends, with this sentiment in mind. While this is her lonely battle in some ways, she need not ever feel alone. She’s got wonderful women from our workshops sending her positive energy, love, & light. We aren’t in the room literally holding her hand but we are there in spirit, lifting her up. Ring of Friends is my interpretation of the light-hearted, free spirited time in our lives where we played & laughed, twirling in the sun. The women in this painting are us– the nurturers, the supporters, & the dreamers– holding hands & encouraging one another.
My mother gave me a wonderful book for my birthday– my birthday isn’t until October 29th but I opened the gift early because I had a feeling I knew what it was 🙂 It’s called Art Saves- Stories, Inspiration, & Prompts Sharing the Power of Art by Jenny Doh. Mom’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. A friend of mine recently told me she had a kidney removed due to renal cancer & they found a spot on her lung that can’t be treated until she recovers from the surgery. I’m stunned & feeling very helpless. What can we do when someone we care about has to travel a scary journey such as this, alone even if surrounded by loved ones?
Marie French, an artist in the book, gave me this inspiring idea- “If you know someone who is battling an illness or dealing with a difficult period in their life, take the time to make a piece of art for them…. fuse positivity into whatever you make.” I love that idea!! If nothing else, it lets Linda know that I’m thinking about her & sending her love. A message of hope, healing, & encouragement. I’m not sure what the piece will look like yet but I’m visualizing a group of barefoot girls in summer dresses playing Ring Around the Rosey. I’ll share the sketch & stages of completion soon but for now, I need to begin… for Linda.