Last night, after delivering a talk at Maine's Northeast Harbor Library and greeting new friends all around, I turn and see a face, vaguely familiar and radiant as the sun. It takes a split second for my eyes to read her impish smile, and then my arms are around her tight, this friend from 37 years ago who has driven 4 hours from what was once my home in Portland to have a moment of gratitude, together, for this circle of life.
When I was 24 and just out of Divinity School, I served a congregational church in Maine, and Pam served as my right arm, accomplishing what neither of us knew was possible, but what we wanted to give a go. When I met Pam, she was large with her third child and had no idea how bright is her light, how smart and savvy her gifts might be to lead.
But I did. I asked Pam to take on this role or that, and she shrank back in fear but always said Yes, and not only grew into each job but exceeded it. Pretty soon, she was running the whole show.
Pam moved on to do remarkable things in her life; teaching teachers, lifting up disadvantaged women, tackling major educational problems in her city and state and beyond. She became an Ibu. And that's who I see in front of me tonight - this accomplished friend, this grandmother of a small tribe, this woman of respect.
What happens, I have to wonder, when we really believe in one another, when we look to the light in one another's eyes rather than measure one's past; when we read potential rather than fear?
We get women like Pam, rising into their own best life. We get women, all over the planet, seeing their skills elevated and their selfhood soar. We get Monica, in El Salvador, learning that her indigo dresses for Ibu are our best seller and that women are demanding more - would her group accomplish a new design? And to no-one's surprise, we see she aced this one, too, with circles as bright as the sun.
That is why I do this work. For the joy of watching women soar when they did not know they had wings.
Here's to Pam, who could never be held back anyway; and to Monica and her small group in El Salvador, who are surprising even themselves with their strength. Once we believe in one another, there is really no stopping because of something so small as fear. Our wings are rising The sun is our home.
All the Best,
Susan Hull Walker