Do you know that today is the Feast of Visitation?
I do. But lest you think it’s because I’m some compendium of knowledge, let me assure you: I only know this because I have an app that syncs the entire Church calendar with my own. There’s no need to say it. I’m aware. It’s over the top. On any given day I can see every event and time-worn ritual that marks the rich history of the Catholic, Anglican, and Protestant traditions of faith. And I admit it: I love this. Not so much because I celebrate or even am familiar with it all; rather, because I love feeling connected to something larger than me, something ancient, something powerfully sacred.
Back to the Feast. On this day we celebrate the Virgin Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. I’ve written about this, and even recorded a video about the power of their friendship with one another, about how their relationship reminds us that we are never alone. I promise.
And so on this day, whether or not you have this liturgical calendar synced to your own, whether or not you know anything of these two women, whether or not you care deeply or not at all for such tradition, you are cordially invited – by me – to your own celebration of the Feast of Visitation. Yes, because it’s significant – this relationship between Mary and Elizabeth – but more, because of this:
Their friendship encourages you to honor the women that you treasure and value.
If I were preaching a sermon today, I’d talk about how magnificent and profound is the presence of particular women in our lives. Women who fully and completely accept and love us. Women who shelter us in our fears and celebrate us in our triumphs. Women who stay by our side, silently and without judgement, with soothing touch and endless kindness. Women who we may not even know in intimate, personal ways, but whose words – and their writing – have impacted us deeply.
I am infinitely grateful to have both in my life: women with whom I can laugh and cry and women whose words I’ve read (and read and read) – those by whom I’ve been both pierced and inspired. I’m sure you have known the same, do know the same, even now.
On this day, the Feast of Visitation, I’m inviting you to celebrate the women who have helped you trust your voice, your experience, your truest self.
Just like Mary and Elizabeth.
No candles to light (though you may). No special food to prepare (though you can help yourself). And no particular religious beliefs required (though all are welcome). Just you, a piece of paper or a blank page on your computer screen, and time. Even more, you – intentionally and powerfully – connecting with the heritage and legacy of which you are a part, in which you participate, and by which you are shaped. Ready?
Two simple steps, amended from the brilliance of Mary Pierce Brosmer in her book, Women Writing for (a) Change:
- Write down the names of five women in your life whom you remember, whom you experience now, or whom have impacted you significantly by their writing. Women who – whether aware of such or not – have been instrumental in helping you trust your voice and your experience.
- Next, see what happens when you remember them in words. Write about their role in your development. Consider writing to them, and even write as them, imaginatively exploring their stories and how their lives unfolded to have them intersect with yours in such an important way.
That’s it. Your personal Feast of Visitation. But not yours alone. Yours alongside the countless millions who are also marking this day – whether writing, or not; remembering and honoring the power of women’s relationships, Mary and Elizabeth, the sacred and indeed, spiritual power that results when they/we are together.
We are part of something larger, something ancient and powerfully sacred, something deeply and divinely feminine. I love that.
Women, I believe, search for fellow beings who have faced similar struggles, conveyed to them in ways [that] can transform into her own life, confirming desires [she] had hardly acknowledged–desires that now seem possible. Women catch courage from the women whose lives and writings they read, and women call the bearer of that courage, friend.
~ Carolyn Heilbrun, The Last Gift of Time: Life Beyond Sixty
Celebrating together, catching courage from each other, and calling one another friend. May it be so – on this and every day.