I’m seated in front of my computer in my bedroom reading highlighted selections from Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider. She’s so insightful. She speaks my language. She articulates my fear of language and my fear of what I have to say.
I also thought of the late Mrs. Gloria Peterson. She was the wife of Pastor Willie Peterson in Dallas. She was the keynote speaker at a women’s retreat I attended in the mid-90s. At that time, I was not a “joiner” and was the least likeliest person to go on a religious retreat with women I barely knew. But for reasons unknown to me I was one of the first to sign up. It’s one of several memories where I felt the Spirit of God gave me warm, safe assurances about my choice. I didn’t have to “pray about it.” I signed up, marked my calendar and was ready for the journey. I now believe it was God giving me a glimpse of what transparency, authenticity and security in self looked like. It was also a glimpse of how one person/one meeting can permanently mark your life with good stuff. That was always my desire - to mark young women’s lives with good stuff so that they, too, would grow up and mark other people’s lives with good stuff. I wanted to be part of a holy, loving contagion. For me, it started with Mrs. Peterson.
The first thing I liked about her was that she didn’t have a bunch of titles on her name. She was simply “Mrs.” I also liked the opening song she sang. It was a hymn sung in a heavenly operatic voice. I can’t remember the song, but I remember immediately reaching for the box of Kleenex. I was in the presence of someone so gracious and pure and holy. As soon as she opened her mouth I knew God was present and that transformation was near.
At the time, I was maybe a year or two out of a relationship that caused me to dismiss all serious relationships (although I was open to dinner dates and the occasional nibbling of my toes). I was on my corporate grind. I wanted to make money. Even then I knew that was a small life. My true search was for significance. One day with Mrs. Peterson was the window of hope I believed was possible but had not seen a clear model of what it looked like. She was grand and secure without the validation of “branding” or “marketing” efforts. She was who I wanted to be - righteous, funny, secure, safe, effective in everything she put her hands to, careful to only put her hands to those things that would keep her righteous, funny, secure, safe and effective in everything she put her hands to.
Today I wondered aloud if there were others who wanted to gather and put to flight fear of language. What do we have to say? I have access to a meeting space and a penchant to gather with folks who love to drink wine. I’m putting the call out for “Sister Outsiders: Transforming Silence into Language,” a gathering of women to write with the intentions of speaking, publishing or performing our words. #asé #Audrescribes