Thursday, November 3, 2016
Together We Rise!
Imagine if you were told you and a group of people could change the world in a weekend. Who would be there with you? What do you imagine you’d do? How do you imagine you’d feel? Have you ever imagined it?
When I was invited to attend the Gather the Women Annual Gathering in Los Gatos, CA, I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly wasn't told (nor did anyone expect) that this would be world-changing or even life-changing business. What I feel now after attending is that we may have started a powerful ripple that could possibly travel across the world. Our plan? No plan. Just be present. Share from the heart. Listen from the heart. Trust ourselves. Our tools? Love. Trust. More love. Sisterhood. What follows is an account of the experience through my perspective as as participant and author-presenter, and why I believe something truly important and amazing may have been co-created quite unexpectedly.
The retreat center’s gathering room is abuzz with the voices of women. As I take in the source, I see almost seventy, assembling into intimate circles of six to eight. Within minutes, the tone quiets. Only one woman in each circle is speaking now, and all others leaning in, held in rapt attention and regard. The women speaking have been asked to share their thoughts, feelings and knowings about the theme of our retreat, “You are enough. We are enough.” In turn, every woman in each circle will have her time to speak while all the others listen. No back and forth conversation is allowed, and this is one of the keys to the magic of circle. There are tears, expressions of awakening, joy, pain, curiosity, doubt, hope – a full spectrum…
All of these expressions, we know from experience, will blend into a richer soup we call the quantum field or the collective consciousness. Over the weekend this soup will continue to simmer and steep, the flavors mellowing into one another, made more delicious and magically unified as we tend it together.
I could feel something beginning to arise in the room: a tender possibility had been spoken through many voices. We are peeking out of our old, familiar cages, old “I’m not enough” stories and welcoming ourselves into a more expansive space – one that affirms that we each and together may actually be enough; enough to live the life we’d always dreamed, enough, perhaps even, to save the world. Could we trust that new and unfamiliar space to keep us safe, to nourish our potential, to fulfill our greatest hopes and dreams?
Not wanting to interfere with the fragile flow of what is arising as each woman dares to open a piece of her own story to other women, I tiptoe around, observing to see if every woman has had a chance to share. I am always amazed by what the simple act of deep listening can do, how the absence of trying to fix or care-take allows for something far richer and more valuable to emerge. It feels something like trustworthiness, compassion, acceptance, intimacy, respect, belonging...
This is the first small circle at the retreat since I arrived, and the women seemed hungry for it. It usually takes many encounters for a group to grow in intimacy enough to truly receive these more powerful gifts of circle. But today is quite different. The majority of the women gathered here host circles in their hometowns and trust circles implicitly. They have come from as far away as Argentina and Thailand and represent territories stretching from Florida to British Columbia; Arizona to Maine. It is a significant commitment to be here. These are powerful women – activists, academics, counselors, healers, entrepreneurs, mothers, grandmothers, aunts, artists, poets, a judge. They carry the beautiful mother-lines of every tradition - Indigenous, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, Latina, European. These are women who have said yes to the intention of growing an ever-expanding circle of peace and understanding in service to all of Earth. They have agreed to take a deep dive into essence, and have communed with others in the quantum field where we are simply just all human and sisters. These women of pure intention and humility and this primal call to unify women at this important time are why Gather the Women Global Matrix, the all-volunteer host organization of this retreat, has spread so rapidly all over the world.
Circle time is coming to a close. As I continue to observe the sharing and blending of women’s stories, I am hesitant to interrupt, silently holding up two fingers to signal an intention to bring the circles to a sense of completion, barely squeaking out, “time to wrap it up.” As I wait, I pause to reflect on what I had shared with these women just moments before, which included the surprising fact that the word “enough” comes from the Old English roots “ge-” and “-nah” which mean “Together we rise!” How could we have forgotten the connection between realizing our “enoughness” and “rising together?” Somewhere in recovering this ancient knowledge, I believe, is the key to realizing our innate power as women to transform both ourselves and the entire world.
Marianne Williamson says when women realize our collective power it will be like “awakening the sleeping giant.” The Hopi say that “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” The Dalai Lama expressed that he believes the Western women will save the world. (I take this to mean that “Western women” is simply shorthand for any woman whose basic needs have been met, and who has more than enough to help.) As my retreat roommate aptly observed, messages like these resonate because they mirror a truth that already exists within us. The knowing has to come from somewhere. There would be no desire or vision to reach for a New Story if we didn’t have some remembrance of that story as our “home frequency.” In this way, we each carry the seed of the possible within our own yearning. As we share in circle, we are discovering that we can agree on what this feeling of home is. It is from this common knowing that I am certain the New Story will be born.
As we re-member the New/Primal Story together, we are remembering how powerful we really are and we know we’ve only barely begun to tap into our power as co-creators. The reign of “not enough” has held us back for 5,000 years from really knowing the magnitude of our potential and from using it for the benefit of all. As long as we are in a scarcity mindset, we cannot unite as a sisterhood. The Old Story that would have us compete with one another for male attention, jobs and status no longer has power over us. We shake off old habits of unworthiness, survival of the fittest and separation to uncover the hidden potential of sisterhood. Once we experience the sisterhood arising as our own experience, we can no longer pretend we are that separate, small and powerless in the world. We are done with the “not enough” illusion and are ready to step into the fuller reality of who we are and what the world is. We are enough. There is enough.
A new kind of stirring is coming from one corner of the room. It is electric, confident, even joyful. The women in one of the small groups are leaning forward, grasping their hands together in the middle of their circle. Before I know it, they are throwing up their hands in unison as if throwing up a gift to the cosmos, proclaiming from a place of incredible power and resonance, “Together we rise!” One by one, like popcorn, each group repeats this action, each leading to clapping and celebration from every other group. My eyes well with tears of instant recognition. It’s happening. Right here. Right now. Already. Together we rise!
What begins to transpire over the course of the weekend is absolutely breathtaking. Life-changing revelations. More hugs and genuine expressions of love than most of us have received in an entire lifetime. Wounds healed in an instant and without words. Burdens and old stories lifted. Courage ignited. And something more - a deeply grounded, confident, unified global sisterhood recharged. It is something solid now. Something we can take home with us to our home circles.
What allowed us to embody the Enough Story this weekend so fully? Even before the retreat, I realize the “enough” field was building among us. This was not a typical conference or retreat with a rigid, predetermined agenda, but an organic, living co-creation – the feminine, “all are enough” way. The wise and courageous event organizers felt their role was simply to hold a space physically, energetically and spiritually for the unique expressions of all who would be gathering. It would be up to the participants to fill that vessel up. This is the participative democracy we’ve forgotten, but are learning to reassemble again. All are teachers and learners. All are leaders and helpers. No one is higher or lower. You would expect it to be a messy and chaotic affair when you unleash the control of an entire retreat moment to moment to nearly seventy women! But it was grace embodied. We all gave. We all received and were received. It was the world as it should be, as I always had hoped it could be, and as I now believe it absolutely will be as we take our newly experienced “enough” field out into our circles and communities, rippling out from there.
As the weekend unfolds, “I am enough,” “we are enough” and “together we rise” have found spontaneous heart-expanding expression through song, dance, art, poetry, wailing, drumming, healing sessions, film, sacred ceremony and guided meditations. A musical soundtrack of Enough had been produced by one of the participants, and a higher expression of it has come alive as everyone sings those songs together, feeling it personally in their bodies and spirits. It is a dream come true for the Enough Message, which I always have said is not mine but something I feel compelled to serve and invite others to use and to serve. I now have sisters who are holding the message with me, each in her own beautiful and unique way, exploring its different dimensions and using it to unleash her heart, her power, her beauty and potential.
I believe that women have been nurturing a New Story for the Earth for a long, long time, for longer than the human invention of time itself. Rebirthing the world takes time. And patience. And humility. And then even more patience and humility. We have all waited long enough, haven’t we? The birth is imminent. We feel the quickening in our bodies and in our spirits. It is real. We are enough to be midwives of a new culture.
What I have learned is that when it comes to creating something entirely new, women are very often the first in the culture to actually embody it. I’ve observed this again and again as I either attend or speak with those who have attended spiritual-leaning conferences in recent years. Humanity is being called to release old structures, to strip them down to their true essence and intention, and for this, women are perfectly matched. The spiritual women speak of “knowing” while the establishment is still busy making models and conducting studies to prove that what the women experience is true. But which is the faster path, which reveals itself as a holistic (even instantaneous) picture - science or direct experience? Do we really need to wait for scientific proof, or do we need to begin simply trusting ourselves and standing our ground when it comes to matters of peace, justice, kindness, community, and nature? It was the women who started the movement to protect the water at Standing Rock, and women have been the most persistent activists for peace. It is the women who are protecting the seeds in India, standing up to Monsanto. Women who know what is right and good. Women who trust themselves.
When something morally important rises up to be done, the signal comes from a sacred place within us that is planted in solid ground, a place at one with the highest and best for our world, at one with Mother Earth. It is more powerful than we can imagine, and we can no longer be quiet and demure when it bubbles up through us to be spoken aloud. This power may scare us, especially if we are afraid we will repeat the mistakes of the powerful in the old patriarchal, hierarchical story. Or we may carry a primal fear from our female ancestors who were murdered for speaking up. But this is a very different time and this power is not to be feared, for it emanates from the heart, and it is being invited now, not just from you and from me, but from all awakened women.
It is a sacred service to hold a space for something new to emerge, something that is independent of us but which incorporates our love and nourishment as the very building blocks of its liberation. It takes courage and deep trust to let it take shape without trying to control or limit what it will become. We all know that the Old Story was all about learning how to control both nature and one another. We are learning that holding onto that Old Story of “control over” may well be suicidal for everyone. We have every motivation to give birth to a New Story as soon as possible.
The New Story requires that we learn how to deepen into trust and into uncertainty and discomfort. What better prepares us for this than how our bodies experience pregnancy and childbirth? In that same way, women’s circles are about holding sacred womb-like space for what is emergent in each person to rise. It holds us steady even if everything around us is falling apart. What emerges through circle is very often not what we expect, but it is always what we are ready to hear. It is always what is needed. In the weaving of our emergent seeds of consciousness , I believe, is the New Story itself, a model and a vision for building a new planetary culture that works for everyone.
It begins just as we had begun this weekend: by starting to believe in our own enoughness just as we are. We trust that our greatest yearnings and gifts were called forth by the universe to fill an important need, to provide an important step in humanity’s collective evolution. Then we learn to trust others and to ask for and to expect help, meeting at the glorious, nurturing nexus of shared essence, not in competition or ego. And we trust the universe, God, Goddess, The Creator, the quantum field, to support the greatest good for all of us – always including ourselves as the first and central receiver of goodness and nourishment. Nothing that I have found brings these forces for good together like women’s circles. And the New Story for Earth deserves nothing less.
It is almost impossible at first to discern the enormity of what is being created by a women’s circle. The outward signs and actions are subtle: a softer expression, shoulders dropping, abdomen muscles relaxing, a risk taken to share more deeply, a secret heart-felt dream expressed. But at its collective core, this arising something in circle has been felt by many women for a long, long time. Matriarchal indigenous cultures who have sat in circles for thousands of years have always known this magic. And this is what I feel so palpably growing all around me in this room. It is real. It has a unified direction. It has a source. And they are one in the same: LOVE. Only when we know, really, deeply know we are enough, are we completely available to give love away. As one woman at the retreat so aptly expressed, love is one of the few things in life that is not a zero sum game. By giving it away, we don’t have less of it. What we give away is actually multiplied in the act of loving itself. There is always enough of it, no matter what. And this is the knowledge that has been lost in the Old Story of scarcity that humanity has been living. This is what women are ready to birth now: a world awash with our unmitigated love.
We know it feels like love, but that word is so overused that it cannot describe these depths with the precision I am looking for. What kind of New Story will it be? What will it look like? I believe it is almost too amazing to wrap our minds around. And perhaps that is why it must reveal itself through our hearts, not our heads, which would see such rapid, wonderful change as an improbable miracle, not an inevitable evolution of consciousness. Words aren’t nearly adequate to describe the hidden enoughness that exists within and all around us. To approximate the enormity, I had earlier offered a metaphor with the group. Science is now understanding that our bodies are 99.999 % open space and that open space contains 10⁴⁰ more energy than does an equal amount of solid matter. There is enough energy in just one square meter of empty space to boil all of the oceans on Earth! Yes, this is the magnitude of the potential I believe we have begun to tap into during this powerful weekend and in circles throughout the world.
I believe the movement from from Old Story to New Story, from our very own .001% to our 99.999% is one in the same. Both of these expansions are greatly assisted by examining our own personal relationship to one single word, enough: remembering we are each enough and always have been enough for this very time on Earth. We are enough to be worthy of having enough and of demanding a world that provides enough for everyone. We are enough to imagine and create the entirely new structures that will do just that. We are enough to infuse these structures with loving intention that serves the greater good. We are enough right here. Right now. At last we remember. We are enough!
And knowing this, no – feeling this deeply as our own personal, lived experience – makes all the difference in the world. What is pressing outward from our chests as we feel the tremendous love that has been built up in our retreat space this weekend is nothing other than the New Story itself emerging through us, emerging from millions of hearts one precious person at a time. It is time to let it expand and be as big and as visible as it wants and needs to be. We can do this.
We can do it because the sisterhood is strong and so are we.
This is our time.
Together we rise!
f you participate in a women's sacred circle of any kind, know how grateful I am that we are all rising together! Each circle brings us to a global tipping point. If you don't have a circle, why not create one? Free circle guide from www.gatherthewomen.org, an all-volunteer international nonprofit organization.
You can learn more about Laurie and her book, Enough! How to Librate Yourself and Remake the World with Just One Word and other offerings by visiting her website, www.lauriemccammon.com