While today is overcast and gray, a quiet day, the previous two days were golden and blue, full of laughter and energy (at times too much) as four other women and I accompanied 13 girls on the cusp of adolescence to a retreat center in Hope, Alaska. (Wouldn’t that be a great place to live?) Indeed, I return full of hope and excitement for this next generation of young women who are jaw droppingly beautiful, thoughtful, wise and loving. We sang, we danced, we created, we celebrated the beauty of an Alaskan autumn, and we shared. The girls shared their thoughts and stories with us and we older women encouraged them by remembering some of the places that we maybe got a little “caught” by life and the world along the way, the places that kept us from being all that we wanted to be and the things that we told ourselves that we could not do.
As we shared our thoughts about God, one thing became very apparent. These girls did not have images of a judging or vindictive God. As they talked about what God’s thoughts might be and what God might want for them, they painted a picture of a loving, nurturing and present God. A God that was approachable, not reproaching. I am deeply joyful that the kind of Love that they described will accompany them along each of their unique life journeys.
We ended the retreat with each person being anointed with oil and also anointed with many loving affirmations from each girl in the group. We heard everything from “you are kind”, “you are very funny”, “you always stand up for what you believe in”, “your smile lights up the world”, to “you have great taste in socks”. We return to our schools, work, homes and family with lighter and more loving hearts, grateful for what we can learn from each other when we open our ears and our hearts.