all-light-cannot-see-anthony-doerr

Let’s have Sisterhood take over the world – boys, girls, and all.

Let’s talk about Sisterhood. It’s a much bigger concept than simply having female siblings. I believe that Sisterhood, big S, encompassing millions of diverse humans, is what today has been about.

I’m aware that there was a big, braggadocious, depressing, basically unthinkable event going on yesterday. It was my day off. I studiously avoided all exposure to it. Instead, I’ve been ruminating on more worthy things.

you-can-be-anything-be-kind
Image via The Master Shift

In November, I weighed in about the political situation and how it must be combatted with courtesy and civilized conversation  and critical thinking and especially LOVE. I felt the need yesterday to focus on that. Love is what we use to fend off and neutralize hate. Love is what we’re here for. But what does that look like on a grievously upsetting day?

Sisterhood popped up as a theme as early as breakfast. One of my wonderful, gifted American cousins – who happens to be an only child – had written a beautiful Facebook post that included these wise words:

Sisterhood shines brilliantly when we lift each other up, giving tough love when our sisters aren’t reaching their full potential… and celebrating each other’s successes from a place of abundance and admiration instead of envy. 

Sisterhood is about collectively raising and empowering the young girls in our lives. 

Sisterhood is sharing in the flawed, exhausting, pressure-filled, body-centric, mysterious, perfectly imperfect experience of being a woman. Sometimes we are violated, silenced, overlooked, or underestimated. Too often, we are our own worst enemies. 

Sisterhood is turning into our mothers, taking care of our mothers, and becoming mothers. 

Sisterhood is coming together in the hundreds of thousands, all over the world, to be heard.

This prompted me to re-read one of my favourite Momastery posts, in which the carpentry term “sistering” is explained. It’s kinda perfect. It’s all about getting close, locking in, being there and supporting where support is most needed.

It occurred to me that Sisterhood, in its greatest sense, is not just for women. It can embrace the people of all genders who sister each other.

Yes, I know that brotherhood is a thing, and a good thing in many ways. I firmly believe boys need more bonding experiences. Brotherhood connotes standing united together, leaving no one behind, knowing who’s got your back, and no doubt much more. It also connotes frat parties, army platoons, and street gangs.

Sisterhood, on the other hand, has gentleness. It is strong and fierce, and gentle. It can get angry and still be kind. It is brimful of compassion. Sisterhood is open; it confides; it listens; it feels deeply. It is not afraid to be vulnerable, nor to give tough love, nor to speak its heart.

It has been my privilege in life to know many men who understand and participate in this kind of Sisterhood – including several who are related to me. One of them had his 30th birthday yesterday, which made all of us who know and love him feel comforted on that date.

{Thank you for being amazing, Sistermen – the world needs you more than ever.}

And today is another birthday, that of a faraway sister-of-my-heart whom I rarely see, but with whom I can always fall into step when we meet.

I have many Sisters, Canadian and American, who have been marching today in various places, including Washington. It has made me really happy to check in with them and see Sisterhood governing. Wise words spoken – incisive wit – reverent listening – peaceful gathering – pink pussy hats – acknowledgement of privilege – generosity – joyful solidarity. Humans supporting humans in our imperfectly human way.

sisterhood womens march on washington
Image via cbc.ca, Julia Pagel

Last night, I was fortunate to be in the audience at the Guelph Lecture On Being Canadian, presented by Jeannette Armstrong, Okanagan knowledge-keeper, professor, researcher, writer, protector. She spoke of the importance of listening to and understanding the exact opposite of your own perspective, in order to achieve balance. She spoke of coming together to heal the world. The unity in the room was palpable. Sisterhood.

It seems to me that in these past two days, that balance of opposites is exactly what the world has seen.

To all Sisters: we know there are tough times ahead. We know that to provide the balance for what is coming, we will have to use extra measures of patience, warmth, empathy, and understanding – for each other just as much as for those on the other side of the scales. We need to think hard, check ourselves, and use the most love that we can muster.

We are meant for this challenge. We’ve got this.

 

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Acts of Kindness

I’ve been thinking about Kindness lately. Being nice to people. An idea not as simple for us humans as it sounds.

I recently happened to read some interesting blog posts by one Miss Zoot, whose blog I found through Daily Buzz Moms, and really enjoyed reading this post about not being mean to other people. It struck a chord with me. Miss Zoot (a.k.a. Kim) is a person who tries her best to be nice (although we all mess up these kinds of goals occasionally). She also becomes uncomfortable when people profit from mocking others – she believes that making other people laugh (or read your blog or whatever) is not a good enough reason to be mean to someone.

This is something I can agree with. I’ve been trying to think back and figure out if I ever blog at other people’s expense. I’d like to think not, since I am also a person who tries to be nice, but I don’t know for sure. I once blogged about Ann Coulter and wasn’t very nice; I’ve written letters to Prime Minister Stephen Harper (one upon his majority election and one related to his omnibus bill) in which my ire got the better of my politeness.

In my defense, I don’t write these kinds of posts for their comedic value. I write them when I get angry at someone – usually someone who appears to lack kindness. I realize that my tendency is to write with compassion that is satirical, but contains a grain of sincerity that I hope my readers detect – because, after all, when people seem to suck… there’s usually a reason, and often a profound one.

On a lighter note, this morning I got out of the house for an hour-and-a-half’s jaunt about town (during the baby’s nap) in which I witnessed two acts of kindness I consider remarkable. Not random acts of kindness; kindness when a stranger needs it – but hasn’t asked for it.

On my way from the farmer’s market, there was a woman on the other side of the road who tripped on the sidewalk and fell, with all her market purchases. I was just looking to see if it was safe to jaywalk when I noticed another person crossing the street to come to this woman’s aid. She was apparently unhurt (physically), and the other woman helped her gather her things and get up again, respectfully, to avoid embarrassment. I was so glad to see that; sometimes people just ignore these situations and look the other way, but not today.

Then I was in a Tim Horton’s, in line behind two girls I would judge to be about twelve or thirteen years old. One was getting her toonie (two-dollar coin for the Yanks) out of her pocket and dropped it. She bent down to retrieve it and realized that it had fallen between the cracks of the slush grate and disappeared. She and her friend laughed a little, but you could tell she was upset; a toonie is worth considerably more when you’re twelve. And she just wanted a warm beverage. After a minute or two, realizing this girl had no more money, the guy in front of them in line simply gave her a toonie, saying, “That’s some harsh luck, there.” And for the record, he did not look like the kind of guy you expect to do such a nice thing. He wasn’t smiley or grandfatherly or anything; just kind.

After that, I thought to myself, Two lovely acts of kindness at just the right moments! I’m going to provide the next one.

Funnily enough, it’s not as easy as you’d think to find those great moments. Unless you count opening doors for people or letting them pull out in front of you in the parking lot. I’d like to say that when I bought Girl Guide Cookies from the poor, shivering young girls outside the market, it was an act of kindness… but they’re so delicious, I know it was really just hankering on my part.

I guess this will be a work-in-progress.

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P.S. Here are some better pics of the dragon-fairy costume, taken while E was helping me make pancakes the day before Halloween.

three-year-old's dragon costume
Industrious dragon loves to cook.
dragon and pancakes
(So you know… those wings are sparkly.)


 

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