Hello, dear reader, you with your stories, with hands that create breakfast, lunch and dinner along with many mysteries.
I am finally returning from the Giving Motherhood a Voice tour through our fair Upper Peninsula. The waves of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior pulsed in the background as we read stories from An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, edited by Suzi Banks Baum. We traveled to Escanaba, Marquette and Ishpeming. Yesterday, we settled in a cabin nestled in pines and spruce near the foggy lake in Big Bay and created collages and painted rocks and wrote soulful words whispered to us by stones and seagulls and lighthouses at Suzi’s Slow Time Salon.
We’ve celebrated women’s voices this past week. We’ve touted women’s stories. We’ve honored our mothers, our grandmothers, our children, our partners. Especially we’ve sung the songs of our hearts, the creations of our hands, the way our spirits need tending in the same way our children’s clothes need mending.
I have LOVED spending hours and days with these women, let me tell you. Monica Devine, a children’s author from Alaska who writes and photographs at Between Two Rivers, took a piece of my heart back to Eagle River. She’s a magnificent writer whose words stun with their clarity and beauty. Terri Bocklund, singer and songwriter extraordinaire, lover of Lake Superior, makes music accompanied by a wolf painted on her guitar and her voice sounds like the silver birch flashing next to the cubs by the shore.
And, oh, Suzi Banks Baum, of Laundry Line Divine, how can we thank you for the visions you create? With dancing eyes and nimble fingers she acts, she creates collages and cards, she paints, she sings, she writes magic words, and she loves chickens, oh how she loves chickens.
She guided us around the Upper Peninsula and we read to dozens of men and women. She engaged us and the audience, inviting us to think about our lives. What makes you shine? Suzi asked.
Sometimes, when you’re on the spot, you share an old answer. You tell what made you shine last week or month or year. I mumbled something about spirituality making me shine.
Ever since that question I’ve been thinking of a more authentic answer, a response from the heart of today. I am going to be pondering this more deeply in the days to come.
For this week, however, the answer comes clear: spending hours with these women, participating in this fabulous book tour–that made me shine.
What makes you shine, dear reader? I would so like to know.
Here is a poem written this rainy morning before I return to work:
Don’t silence us.
Ask us our stories.
What makes us shine, what lights up our faces with joy?
We women, hands deep in sudsy dishwater, changing diapers,
nurturing our kin, singing our dusting songs,
crocheting doilies, writing secret poems, drawing on scrap paper,
knitting scarves the color of sunsets,
performing stand-up comedy for our families,
please, please, ask us our stories,
help us to keep our voices alive,
the connection to our souls simmering
like the hearty soup on the stove,
nourishing bodies and hearts.